May 15, 2011
Smothered Pork Chops and Roasted Carrots
Dooley and Doolia made smothered pork chops which we served with wide noodles and roasted carrots. Somehow I grew up with the assumption that pork chops were hard to prepare, and not that good to eat. That must explain why my birth family never, ever had them for dinner. Well this recipe blew up that assumption completely.
In The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook recipe for Smothered Pork Chops, 'smothered' means covered generous amounts of onion gravy, and sprinkled with crispy bacon bits.
The pork turned out fork-tender, and even our finicky eater liked the onion gravy.
For the roasted carrots, we used half a pound of organic carrots which we peeled and left long, rather than using the short pre-peeled snack variety. The long carrots are more elegant looking. Everyone wanted a second helping so next time we'll make more. They're so simple to to make! There's no excuse not to have 'em with every dinner.
May 14, 2011
Blueberry Scones--unlike any other
America's Test Kitchen has outdone themselves. Today I made their recipe for Blueberry Scones from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. These scones are utterly delectable! They're so tender that they almost melt in your mouth! And they're just sweet enough to balance the tartness of the blueberries. These pastries are so incredibly delicious, it's worth breaking your diet to eat one.
What makes them so good? It can't just the the fresh ingredients, because any old bakery (mom-and-pop, or big commercial ones) uses fresh ingredients. It must be freezing the butter and the delicate handling of the dough. ATK tells you just how much to mix the dough--they call it a "shaggy ball," before you dump it out onto your counter and then knead it--just six times. And then you fold it a special way that adds flakiness, and evenly distributes the blueberries without crushing them.
Dooley says this is hands down the best recipe in the book (so far)! And we have made dozens of spectacularly delicious meals already. I think this recipe alone is worth the price of the book.
May 07, 2011
Bonzai Birthday dinner for Doolia
We broke with tradition for my birthday this year. Previously, every birthday was celebrated at a restaurant along the lines of the Macaroni Grill, Zehnder's Bavarian Inn up in Frankenmuth, MI, or another 'mid-priced' restaurant. This year, in honor of our Dooley and Doolia project, I decided that a home-cooked meal was just the ticket. So I looked through the whole The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook and asked Dooley what he thought about trying the Prime Rib recipe. Needless to say, his eyes lit up and he said, "Sure!"
I had to figure out where to buy a 7 pound prime rib roast. I remembered reading an article about Knight's Restaurant several years ago, that mentioned that there's also a Knight's butcher shop. I checked online to see if it's still there and sure enough, it is. Imagine, I've lived in this town most of my life and never been to this renowned butcher shop. So I called and ordered the piece of meat.
The recipe is the simplest imaginable. You tie and dry the roast. You salt and pepper it and leave it wrapped in plastic wrap on the counter for an hour or two. You brown the outsides, then roast it in a 250 degree oven until it's done the way you want. The book gives you the internal temperatures for each of the doneness levels.
We also made Bernaise sauce to go with the beef. And skin-on mashed potatoes, and roasted broccoli and roasted asparagus. Each one of us had a huge slab of beef and it was so succulent and tender. It was the best birthday dinner I have ever had.
May 06, 2011
Cincinatti Chili for a rainy day
It's rained nearly every day this week, and today is no exception. It's cold, windy, and has rained on and off all day. So Dooley and Doolia wanted something with some heat in it. We decided to make Cincinatti Chili. This chili has ground beef, tons of spices, and is served "5-way," which means served over spaghetti, with diced fresh onions, beans, and shredded cheese on top. We prefer black beans to navy beans, so that's what we used. The spices include whopping amounts of chili powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, allspice, coriander, and cumin. Oh, and don't forget the cayenne pepper, although not very much of that. The end result is a richly flavored, darkish chili. The fresh onions provided a refreshing crunch. It was a terrific way to warm up after a dreary week.
May 02, 2011
Courage to try something completely new
Last week was so busy with daughter's play rehearsals and performance two nights, we didn't really cook very much. She played Ivy in the Pulitzer-prize winning play, "August: Osage County."
To top that off, Dooley wasn't feeling well most of the week so Doolia made Pasta and Asparagus one night alone. And over the weekend, Doolia baked our favorite Multi-grain bread. Sad, really, because we had bought ingredients to make something almost every night.
So tonight Dooley finally was feeling well enough to cook again, so we agreed to make something with perishable ingredients that would have spoiled if we waited much longer. So it was "Potstickers" or Chinese dumplings tonight. We both were a little apprehensive about this undertaking. We'd never made anything like this. Never worked with Napa Cabbage, or Gyoza wrappers. But we trusted that The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook would guide us through this new experience, as it had so many times already.
We prepared the filling and the dipping sauce, and then took the wrappers out of the fridge and to our dismay, they were covered in mold. So Doolia ran to the market and got some more.
The recipe makes a LOT of potstickers! We cooked up two batches, and froze still more. We served our little dumplings with steamed rice and the dipping sauce. They weren't as doughy as the ones you get at a Chinese restaurant, but they were totally delicious. This is another winning recipe and an enjoyable experience.