Cooking In Stilettos...
Thursday, January 29, 2009 Tried & True: Williams Sonoma Braised Short Ribs

In November, I fell in love - with short ribs - specifically, the Bourbon Blue's Braised Short Ribs.

However, I couldn't necessarily stalk pester their chef for the recipe so this gal had to improvise. And by improvise, I mean review every little recipe I could get my hands on that might be *the one*.

Well, my friends, I think I found one that is striking similar and, even better, I was able to finally use that lovely crock pot that only sees the counter every few months when I have to make those fabulous meatballs for a soiree.

Trust me when I say that while it make take some time, the end result is WELL worth it. I served it over some Asiago polenta (the cupboard was sans Parmesan - I KNOW - bad, Lys, bad!) and the leftovers were even better the next day. I halved the recipe because, unless I was feeding my friends for a week, this wouldn't work and I'd have short ribs for breakfast lunch and dinner. Now that I think about it - really, what's so bad about that...

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Williams-Sonoma Braised Short Ribs

Recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma


Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread the flour out on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Dredge the ribs in the flour, shaking off the excess.
  4. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the 3 Tbs. olive oil until nearly smoking.
  5. Working in batches, brown the ribs on all sides, about 10 minutes total.
  6. Transfer to a slow cooker.
  7. Add more oil to the Dutch oven if needed.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions, carrots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.
  9. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  10. Add the wine to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring to scrape up the browned bits.
  11. Add the tomato paste, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf, mashing any large chunks of tomato paste with a spoon.
  12. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until thickened and reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes.
  13. Add the wine mixture to the slow cooker along with enough stock to come halfway up the sides of the ribs.
  14. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours according to the manufacturer’s instructions, stirring occasionally.
  15. Skim the fat off the sauce.
  16. Discard the herb sprigs and bay leaf.
  17. Transfer the ribs, carrots and sauce to shallow bowls or plates and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

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Posted by Lys :: 7:54 PM :: 4 comments

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009 New Product: Stonewall Kitchen's Pink Hot Chocolate...

Here's a new product alert - Stonewall Kitchen has just added PINK HOT CHOCOLATE to their fab collection of products. Not only do you get the frothy hot chocolate but also marshmallows and the mugs to go with. Now that's something to surprise your sweetie this Valentines day or whenever you want to brighten your day with a bit of pink.

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Posted by Lys :: 10:43 AM :: 3 comments

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Monday, January 26, 2009 A Bounty of Fruits and Veggies...

In my quest on eating healthier this year, I made a commitment to actually USE the produce I buy.

I am guilty of shopping for groceries sans list, going "ohhh - let me try this" and "Ooohhh, that looks great" and my bags are loaded with produce due to my impulse shopping (and you thought I was bad with shoes - not!). During the week, lately I have been so drained from the 9to9 that when I get home my fingers start dialing for takeout. Not to mention, I really don't have much time to spend at Publix or Fresh Market these days - it's that crazy.

Well, I found out about this great service called Orlando Organics where they deliver a plethora of organic goodies to you and you get to set the schedule for weekly or bi-weekly, all very reasonably priced. In addition to my normal order, I decided to add some extra fruit. The people there are so great, very personable and actually pay attention to what you may not like and try to help you out with your delivery. All in all, I'm thrilled so far. And, now that I have my Lotus system, I'm excited.

So, with that, let's see what I got, shall we?
  • Blueberries (just in time for The Chic Life's Weekly Challenge)
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwi (Have to admit - never tried it but I'm up for a challenge)
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Cherry Tomatoes (roasted tomato sauce for tortellini)
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Winter (??) Squash
  • Avocado
  • Baby Carrots

The cooler was crazy full with a plethora of organic goodies. I felt like a kid on Christmas going "Iron Chef - Ingredient - I dunno!" If anything it spurred the creativity in me and I have some interesting things on the agenda this week.

Now, please excuse me while I am off to learn about all things Winter Squash...

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Posted by Lys :: 7:57 AM :: 4 comments

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 AeroGarden: Week 1...

I have to admit that when I go through my cooking spurts, fresh herbs are a must. However, at the current prices, I can easily spend $15 weekly just on stuff like Italian Parsley, Basil, Rosemary and so on. And, to boot, I have been putting off replanting the AeroGarden for some time. I bought the AeroGarden a couple years ago and haven't used it as often as I should. It's beyond simple to use - just add the nutrients when they tell you to and the AeroGarden does all the heavy lifting.

I finally bit the bullet and planted a round of the Gourmet Herbs: Italian Parsley, Chives, Thyme, Italian Basil, Dill, Mint and Purple Basil. I figure that if I'm really going to start finding ways to save some money, I might as well spend the $$ for a seed kit that will give me 6 mo. worth of herbs and keep my herb buying to a minimum.

So, here's the pic of a freshly planted garden - week 1. What will Week 2, 3 and 4 bring I wonder.



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Posted by Lys :: 10:45 PM :: 1 comments

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Monday, January 19, 2009 Cookin' Round The Web: Saving Some Pennies, One Pantry At A Time…

With our country heading into a new administration, one can’t stick their head in the sand and think that finances are not in the spotlight. Going hand in hand with that effort is the Green movement. I’m learning that sometimes it’s just the best thing to stay home and chill, relaxing with friends and family while shopping in your pantry.

So, for this edition of Cookin' 'Round The Web, I spotlight some posts that can help you channel your inner frugalista while playing in the kitchen...

Obviously, a well stocked pantry is KEY to any perfect meal. The Kitchn spotlighted an article from the New York Times where Mark Bittman gave his suggestions about what is needed in a pantry. Sure, it’s a bit of an investment at first but when you think about it, once it’s stocked, you have less of a headache.

Sarah over at
Pink Shoe Diaries gave a lesson in Foodie Frugality… I’m going to implement the coffee tip – well, once I receive that replacement carafe for the coffee maker. ( I didn’t look where I was whippin’ around in the kitchen and the coffee pot went to pieces. Turns out they coffee maker was discontinued :::sigh::: )

Kathy at Panini Happy gave 5 Money-Saving Panini tips. Quick meals are just a moment away... and leftovers can be totally remade into something fabulous...

The Italian Dish gave some insight into how to make homemade gnocchi. Think about it – you already have most of these ingredients in your pantry. Considering its $3 - $4 for the vacuum packed gnocchi which, in my opinion, sometimes tastes like glue, this details the recipe perfectly and you can be a rock star at your next dinner…

Why spend a fortune for flavored oils and vinegar when you can make your own. Italian Food Forever gives some great tips on how to make your own…

The Casual Kitchen pointed out 41 Ways You Can Help Out The Environment… Plus, an added benefit that is not only are you helping the environment, but you save some cash too.


Finally, Philly.com spotlighted the state of the kitchen in their article, Home is Where The Food Is

OK, all this finance chatter has made a gal a bit somber... So, let’s spotlight a couple fun ones to round up this Link Round Up…

Erin Cooks! encourages you to channel your inner Peg Bundy and make some homemade bon bons

Food Network Musings has a great discussion on the Food Network Magazine (I’m checking out this new issue this week – haven’t decided if I should buy or not – yet)

And, finally, Forays of a Finance Foodie talked about her experience attending a Food Network Soiree

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Posted by Lys :: 12:33 PM :: 0 comments

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Tried and True: Onion Soup with Thyme and Fontina...

My mom taught me an appreciation of French Onion soup when I was younger. As I got older, I always thought that French Onion soup was daunting and who am I to attempt and resigned to only order it when I was out for dinner.

That was until I was watching Everyday Italian and Giada de Laurentiis made her Onion Soup with Thyme and Fontina. It was like the beloved French Onion but kicked up Italian style. And, it wasn't as complicated as my mind tended to think. Even I could do this!

This soup is in my arsenal. It's super easy to make, always garners compliments galore and is comfort food that is perfect for these cold winter months.

Enjoy!

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Recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis and FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 cups beef broth
4 slices ciabatta bread, cubed
4 ounces sliced fontina cheese
Special equipment: 4 (1 1/2-cup) ovenproof ramekins


Directions

In a medium, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and broth. Simmer, uncovered, until the onions are soft, about 15 minutes.

Divide the soup between the 4 ovenproof ramekins. Divide the cubed bread among the ramekins. Top each with slices of fontina cheese. Place under the broiler, until the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Posted by Lys :: 11:17 AM :: 1 comments

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Monday, January 12, 2009 My 2009 Culinary Goals

I'm not a firm believer in "resolutions" as I detailed over at Just Because... However, I am a fan of "Goals" and decided that, in addition to making my "2009 Life Goals", I was going to add some culinary goals to the mix. Of course, you know you'll have a front row seat if I pass or fail. So, without further adieu, may I present some of my 2009 Culinary Goals...

  • Attend the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. Granted, every year I hear about it and every year I whine about how I should have gone. Well, considering that I live in Florida, I bit the bullet last night and I bought a ticket for a day to at least check it out. Yes, it's pricey but to see some of my fave chefs cook i.e. Michael Symon, Sunny Anderson, Ingrid Hoffman, Tyler Florence, Cat Cora, etc. Who knows, maybe next year I'll go for the whole event. Either way, a day at South Beach - YAY!
  • Take a cooking class (or three) at a local cooking school here in Orlando. I found out about Truffles and Trifles through Chowhound and I'm intrigued to say the least. I know the Italian and Cajun ones are on my list. The Williams-Sonoma “demos” aren’t really “cooking classes” per se. While they are good, if I’m going to spend $40+ for a class, I’d rather it be hands on. I learn much better that way.
  • Learn to make fresh pasta. This means I have to do my research on Pasta Machines, find some fab pasta recipes and, for the love of all things Italiano, learn to NOT hit the boxed penne if I fail miserably.
  • With the pasta comes the pizza... Learn To Make My Own Pizza Dough...
  • Finally cave and getting some "good china and glassware." Now, I have some great pieces courtesy of Southern Living, my family and various finds. I still lust after the Vietri line that I first saw on Everyday Italian years ago. So I’m going to work on actually finding pieces I adore at the best price. Seriously, my one wish would be to raid the Food Network “closet” (you know like the Vogue closet with all the goodies). I’d be up to my eyeballs in all things Le Creuset, Simon Pearce and Vetri. *sigh*
  • Learn to make dog food for the pug. The cat is pretty well established with her fave food, treats and whatnot. The pug is a very finicky eater so I'll be researching more on this. Plus, I feel bad for the little guy who is getting sick all the time. Poor munchkin.
  • Finally, a blog culinary goal - Move this blog over to WordPress. Blogger and I are *ahem* cool but I want to really work on making Cooking In Stilettos the best it could be. So, make sure to keep http://www.cookinginstilettos.org in your bookmarks. I’m hoping to get this transitioned by the end of February - maybe sooner. Don’t quote me, though.

What’s on your culinary agenda for 2009?


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Posted by Lys :: 8:53 AM :: 4 comments

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Friday, January 9, 2009 The Break-Up: Sur La Table - It's Over.

I rarely, RARELY, ever speak ill of what I regard as my cooking Mecca - that being Sur La Table. However, after what I went through last night, Sur La Table and I are breaking up.

I've disclosed before that when I get their catalogs, I pore over it like it’s the latest issue of Vogue. I bought my Global knives there. I first fell in love with (and later took home) my Caribbean Le Creuset pieces via Sur La Table. Sur La Table has been my "online go to spots" for research here for Cooking in Stilettos. Not to mention, the price difference between here and Williams Sonoma is astronomical. Sadly, the nearest Sur La Table is 3 hours away. They haven't built one in Orlando yet (and, last I heard, it will be QUITE some time). And, when I travel, I always research where Sur La Table is and if I have time to go, often leaving room in the suitcase to store the goodies I find. The Sur La Table in New Jersey knows me well.

I placed a substantial order on their site yesterday, namely being the Lotus Sanitizing System that I've talked about here before, a marble pastry board that I needed this weekend, a donut cutter that Diana @ The Chic Life recommended some great deals on baking sheets and the apron I've been lusting after. I would have added more but I thought "eeeh - I still have the remainder of the gift card that I need to use at WS. I'll perhaps use it on the Breville Cordless Blender I've been eyeing."

The key factor to this drama is that I needed the pastry board for this weekend. See, the Marble Pastry board at Williams Sonoma is $129.00. I was hesitant to buy it but figured I had to. You can't find a good marble pastry board here in OTown at a decent price. At Sur La Table it was on sale for $32. That's a HUGE difference. So, knowing that, I figured I'd upgrade to overnight shipping and have it sent to the 9to5. It was an extra $25 but I felt it was worth it with what I would have spent at Williams Sonoma. I couldn't ship it to my house because we're having problems at our apartment complex with deliveries - namely UPS leaves the stuff on the truck, marks it delivered and we don't get it until 2 - 3 days after. We've complained and UPS gives everyone the same excuse, "We're sorry - it got mixed up with the Disney packages". I'd rather not have ANYTHING shipped there if I can avoid it.

My gut instinct, however, kept bugging me last night and I called Sur La Table to check on the status of the order. I normally would get a tracking number by evening. Williams Sonoma does it. Barnes & Noble does it. Other retailers do it. It was now around 8 and I had received nada, nil, nothing.

By chance, I encountered Charmaine in the call center. All started off okay until she told me "Well, it should be shipped tomorrow.” Wait a minute - overnight means OVERNIGHT! Then she tells me that their overnight is, technically, two days. Well considering that my shipping is about $50, we need to rectify that mess quickly - as in cancel. She told me she couldn't do ANYTHING and that I'd have to do it at 8:00 but there was the chance that the order could be filled and shipped by that time. To make the situation every worse, I found that the woman was rude, condescending and just pissed me the hell off.

Yes, I flipped into cable cop mode whereby I told her to let me speak and then I'll let her speak. Do. Not. Interrupt. Me. She goes 'Well you interrupted me!' Wait another flippin' minute - I paused, recounted the conversation in my head, could not not recall one interruption, refused to put up with her attitude and shut. her. down. The next thing she heard was “Charmaine, I want to speak to your Supervisor - NOW".

Her supervisor, Theresa, and I had a "Come to Jesus" talk. It was more than the shipping confusion (a normal definition of overnight vs. their definition) or the need for this pastry board. The reason for the "The Break Up" is and forever will be the crappy customer service exhibited by Charmaine. Theresa assured me that she would address Charmaine's issues immediately and that she would do what she could to cancel my order. However, to be safe, I should call Customer Service in the morning. She did everything she could on her end to try to help the situation which, thanks to Charmaine, escalated well beyond what should have been done. She was beyond pleasant - DID NOT INTERRUPT ME and understood that I seriously was seeing red. While I can get cranky, this was worse than when I shut someone's cable off and they called me the "C" word. (They were stealing cable - where does that make me the bad guy for doing my job, right?)

This morning, I had a quick break from the daily duties where I could give Sur La Table a quick call to make sure the order was cancelled. I wanted that money refunded stat. I resigned myself to the fact that instead of using that Williams Sonoma gift card for a portion of the Breville blender or the Emile Henry Pie Plate or other goodies I wanted, I HAD to spend it on that pastry board and then take a hit for an additional $100.

Well, Sur La Table's rep, Jessica, answered the phone and I told her to cancel the order. She told me I'd receive it on Monday and I told her "No. Just cancel the order." She talked to her supervisor and again asked what she should do. Again, I had to tell her to CANCEL IT! She told me that if it had been placed at 1:00 EST it would have been sent but I placed it around 3:00 EST. OK - where does it say that on the website? It doesn't. While I admit that I am blond, I do tend to notice these things and, if I had seen it, I wouldn't have placed the order. Plain and simple and Sur La Table and I would have been fine. The continued lack of following a clear and explicit command was astounding. What part of CANCEL THE ORDER does Sur La Table not get? No part of explanation by a CSR on their part can override Charmaine's actions. That's the main issue.

Long story short, due to Charmaine's actions, I just can't support Sur La Table anymore. So, it's my decision that until further notice, I'm not going to recommend them, feature their products here on Cooking in Stilettos, give them any link love on either of my sites and their catalogs will go unopened. The two new Sur La Table cookbooks I was planning to buy will not be purchased. I will buy only from other online retailers i.e. Fantes, Cooking.com, Chefs, Jacobs Kitchen, Dean & Deluca, etc. I will purchase that Lotus System through Chefs. I will send customers locally to Le Gourmet Chef, the Premier Outlets, Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma. What was Sur La Table's loss is now other culinary retailers' gain.

Sur La Table not only lost a substantial sale, but a long time fan and customer. Quite simply, I am heartbroken because they truly were my favorite store.

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Posted by Lys :: 12:27 PM :: 7 comments

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009 Tried and True: Rachael Ray's "You Won't Be Single For Long Vodka Pasta"

I know, I know - flog me now. I'm recommending a RR Recipe. However, I have to say, this vodka pasta is super simple, flavorful and just straight out rocks. Now, I know you are all going "Lys, you made it and you're single. The title says won't be single for long. What's up with that?" Quite simply, I have never used it on a special guy - just my friends and fam. However, if I did whip out this recipe for a certain someone, trust me, it would make him cry tears of contented happiness.

This recipe is one that you can put in your arsenal and don't worry, I won't tell anyone that it's courtesy of Rachael Ray. It will be our little secret.

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Recipe courtesy of FoodNetwork.com and Rachael Ray

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Crusty bread, for passing

  1. Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.
  3. Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta.
  4. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves.
  5. Pass pasta with crusty bread.

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Posted by Lys :: 9:07 PM :: 1 comments

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009 A Night At Amada...

One of my favorite chefs is Jose Garces. I've heard rave reviews about his restaurants. His cookbook, Latin Evolution, is like art. And, to boot, the man spanked Bobby Flay HARD on Iron Chef America. So I knew that during my trip to Philly last month, I'd have to go to his restaurant, Amada. Amada is a Spanish tapas restaurant in Olde City, Philadelphia which was just a hop, skip and a jump from my hotel at Penn's Landing.

I have to say, Amada lived up to their buzz - the restaurant was all that and then some. The ambiance was intimate and rustic. From the moment you enter through the flowing draperies at the front door, staff greets you like an old friend welcoming you to dinner. Now, while I love Italian cooking, I'm also fond of Spanish cooking. After all, one of my signature dishes is Arroz Con Pollo.

Now, let's get to the fun stuff - the food. After much contemplation, the menu items selected were:

  • Patatas Bravas (Spicy Potatoes), a dish of potatoes topped with this amazing paprika aioli which I will be attempting to recreate this weekend. It was smoky with a bit of heat that just made you close your eyes and relish the flavors;
  • The Croquetas de Jamon (Ham Croquettes) were good, but I wanted more of the Patatas Bravas; and
  • Costillas de Ternera is a Spanish flatbread topped with Beef Shortribs, Bacon, Parmesan and Horseradish. This is another dish I'm going to attempt to try for the next soiree because the flavors were a perfect mix. It was divine.

Of course I had to have some Merlot but Julie, the fab bartender, also suggested that I try their homemade sangria. If I had thought about it, I would have ordered that instead of the merlot. They have three sangrias - a white, a red and a seasonal. The seasonal selection was a spiced apple sangria which was insanely good. While Julie and I were talking, I mentioned the Foodbuzz New Years Eve 24, 24, 24 event that I was hosting and, with thanks to her, she gave me some wonderful suggestions which turned out perfect.

Sadly, I did not take any pictures of my visit there but I will be sure to take them on the next trip as this has hit my list of "Absolute Fave Restaurants" and I will be going back. However, the Ultimate Epicure reviewed the restaurant and took some AMAZING photos which you must see HERE.

Much thanks to everyone at Amada. It was a meal to remember...

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Posted by Lys :: 6:27 PM :: 2 comments

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Monday, January 5, 2009 Dream Item: La Cornue CornuFé Stove

You ever flip through a catalog or magazine and go "One Day" when you see something that just makes you go "WOW". Well, this is on my mental "Vision Board" and, if I apply the laws of the Secret, perhaps, one day, it will be installed in the home.

I saw the La Conue ConuFe Stove in person at the Williams Sonoma in Palm Beach and oh. my. heavens it's stunning. And this shade of blue is PERFECT! I could just picture it with the copper and the Caribbean Le Creuset pans looking so chic and elegant.

I know I know - totally frivolous but it's just gorgeous! One day, my friends. One day.

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Posted by Lys :: 1:23 AM :: 4 comments

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Sunday, January 4, 2009 Tried and True: Barefoot Contessa's Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast...

For the holiday this year, I decided to keep it simple and didn't freak out making a whole turkey but just a good size turkey breast. When it came to doing research as to the *right* recipe to try, I thought "Barefoot Contessa - one can't go wrong with a Barefoot Contessa recipe" and I'm glad I went with that idea.

Granted, there were a couple things I would change, like buy fresh thyme as the store was out and I substituted dried but it was a wee bit more than I should have used but the turkey came out moist, flavorful and perfect not only for dinner but also for leftovers.

Preppin' for the initial rub
I would highly recommend making this when you are looking to keep it small but somewhat traditional.
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Recipe courtesy of Barefoot Contessa and Food Network
Ingredients

1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6 1/2 to 7 pounds
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast the turkey for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest and meatiest areas of the breast. (I test in several places.) If the skin is over-browning, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the pan juices spooned over the turkey.
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Viola - the finished product





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Posted by Lys :: 3:40 PM :: 4 comments

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Friday, January 2, 2009 Cooking 'Round The Web...

Happy New Year Everyone!

Well, I'm still playing catch up from my travels , work and the holidays , but here are some great posts that I found and thought y'all might enjoy.

Bren over at FlanBoyant Eats is running one heck of a contest - the prizes are *to die for*. What are you waiting for - go enter and then come back. I'll wait. Promise! Congrats Bren on your one year blogiversary!!

Fabulously Broke In The City has a
wonderful post on what to do with all those cords and how to organize them so you can clear the chaos.

Marc Vetri, one of my fave chefs,
talks about his new book Il Viaggo del Vetri in the Philly Daily News

Predo over at Spartacus Wore A Skirt has a great recipe for Ice Cream + French Toast - fabulous for those kiddies who want Ice Cream for breakfast (c'mon - be nice, tis the holiday season!)

Jaden at Steamy Kitchen has a fabulous recipe for those soirees with her
Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Chili Mayo

I picked up a few tips for food photography from The Constables' Larder and Vegan Yum Yum. Yes, that's one of my New Years Resolutions - learn to shoot better photographs!

Judy over at No Fear Entertaining did a fab Cilantro Pesto that I'm going to attempt for Super Bowl Soiree Central (that is if my E-A-G-L-E-S get a shot - wouldn't that be grand!)

Erin Cooks! has a great recipe for Raised Donuts (time to break in that bread machine...) Dunkin Who? Donuts What?

Susan over at Stickey, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy kicked butt in this month's Daring Baker's challenge with a Buche de Noel. First of all, my hat is off to these DBs. I would be curled up in a fetal position over some of the Challenges they do. Secondly - you must read what she went through to accomplish this challenge. I state for the record - I am a cook NOT a baker. She's a baker and an amazing one at that!

Sarah over at Pink Shoe Diaries has a dish that will brighten up the winter blahs - her
Asparagus and Pea Risotto.

SpecktraBeauty (shush) has found some a recipe for some Truffles that are good for you... seriously.

Napastyle guru, Michael Chiarello, opened his new restaurant, Bottega. Check out some great photos and insight from the event.

And, of course, I saved one of my most faves for last - a video where Colin Cowie teaches you how his kitchen is organized. Have I told y'all I adore this man - seriously. And that kitchen - to die for. At least we know he uses his Electrolux appliances. Another spokesperson might not have the cooking chops to fully appreciate her Electrolux... jus' saying ;) If you can, check out his other videos at Epicurious.


Have a wonderful weekend!

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Posted by Lys :: 2:17 PM :: 6 comments

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Thursday, January 1, 2009 FoodBuzz 24, 24, 24: A Very Cranberry Soiree...

Ringing in the New Year last night, I decided to keep it safe, simple and, most of all, fun. I often joke that Central Florida is full of transplants - many of us are here sans family and find that we make our own family through our friends. Not to mention, they say who you spend your New Years Eve with sets the tone for the year ahead. Who better to spend it with but my friends.

I was honored to be selected by FoodBuzz to participate in their 24, 24, 24 New Year's Eve Event - 24 meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs. So, after much thinking, I decided to create a dinner for my "adopted fam" with one of the featured ingredients being the festive holiday fruit - Cranberry. I took some of my tried and true recipes and embellished on them a bit while I also attempted some new ones. I have to say it turned out to be a resounding success.




The Menu

Libations:

Homemade Cranberry Vodka *


Spiced Apple & Cranberry Sangria




Castille del Diablo Merlot


Buffet Selections:

Large Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce and/or Cranberry Relish




Roasted Potato and Onions












Dessert:





I was pretty much pleased with the menu. Some of the menu selections were items that have been a hit at other dinners and the Spiced Apple/Cranberry Sangria was inspired by my recent trip to Jose Garces' restaurant, Amada, in Philadelphia (more on that in a future post). Couple that with my new fave linens from Williams Sonoma (in a festive shade of cranberry!), the party went off with nary a hitch.

Also, as a sentiment to start the New Year off right, my guests and those that were not able to make it will get a little "care package" containing some Cranberry centered items, namely their own small Cranberry Vodka, Erin Cooks! fabulous Cranberry Orange Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies and the recipes for all the recipes used (and some that were considered) for this event. I'm also surprising my co-workers with Confession of a (Sometimes!) Serendipitous Girl aka SSG's fabulous Apple Cranberry Crumble on Monday. I was going to make it yesterday however when I was going through the recipe, I forgot two very vital ingredients. Note to self: Shop with a grocery list NOT on the blackberry. Lys = Airhead. Oops! I'll make sure to do an entry on it with SSG's permission of course.

Well, not being one to exclude y'all, I'm also going to make the recipes available for my readers. So, should you want the recipes, shoot me an email at Justanothagal [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject "24/24/24 Recipes" and I'll be happy to shoot them off to you.


Much thanks to FoodBuzz and my wonderful adopted fam here in Orlando. What a way to ring in 2009!


~ NOTES~
* The recipe is an Orange/Cranberry Vodka because the FN Recipe for Cranberry Vodka is wrong. Just let the vodka soak in cranberries and you will love it. Trust!

** I substituted 2 tbsp. of cranberry chutney for the equivalent of grape jelly. The flavors were perfect with the chili sauce.

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Posted by Lys :: 12:28 PM :: 9 comments

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