Monthly Archive for August, 2009

For the Love of Bread & Twitter

I was recently asked to write a guest post for my good Twitter Gal Pal, Jennifer Perillo. While we’ve never actually verbally spoken, we have had many a conversation and recipe exchange and she is someone I eagerly look forward to meeting in September for BlogHer Food in San Francisco. I’ve excerpted a portion of the piece I wrote, slightly more personal than my usual posts…hope you enjoy it!

For the Love of Bread….
I’m not here to merely talk about my carb addiction to bread (yes, glorious bread) but more about digging down to the very crust of it all. Because it is for me, at the very root of the bread-addiction, to be blamed almost entirely upon my family and my heritage. Growing up with a strong, if not occasionally overpowering, Italian heritage is clearly seen in the foods I crave.

While my father’s side cooked predominately with a Northern Italian flare it was my mother’s side that cooked Sicilian (or Southern Italian) food. It is truly difficult to say that one region’s cooking is better than the other, as there is such a variety of food combinations once you move beyond the stereotypes of the ever delectable pasta and pizza. So eating what my mother prepared from her built in index of home cooking enabled me to eat a lot of Sicilian foods. She also cooked a number of other worldly wonderful dishes but this is about my recollection of those fantastic Sicilian dishes as recently recaptured on our Food-cation this past week.

The basic ingredients to 80% of the recipes are: breadcrumbs, garlic, oregano, basil and olive oil. Spending the week with my mom at her vacation home is always a food extravaganza – so worrying about squeezing into my bathing suit during the afternoon would be a wasted empty effort. No matter how huge I may feel, I am told that I always have room for dinner AND desert…oh, and wine since it technically = water, or so it did in the New Testament, so it shall at our table too.

(Yes, I am a tease…to read the rest, you will have to take a visit to In Jennie’s Kitchen)


One side-bar to note: we were only six people eating the 64 meatballs but what we didn’t eat we could easily turn into meatball sandwiches for our beach-side fun. Doesn’t everyone want to eat meatball sandwiches while sitting in their swim suit at a beach filled with skinny folks who are practically drooling at the sight of your lunch? 😉 Sure they are skinny but you are eating a slice of heaven.

Sweet Hot Norwegian Buns

I promise AND I deliver. The recipe that encapsulated my year of Norwegian food with Siri. The cooking was wonderful but somehow, no matter where you travel on your food escapades, favorites always come back to comfort food. (Don’t deny it- it is Truth-ology because as much as you “L-O-V-E” your green beans and pancetta you ‘LOVE LOVE LOVE’ bread and chocolate and wine because those are the most common denominators of food happiness …and no matter how you flip it, comfort foods REALLY DO make us feel better.)

Norwegian Cardamom Buns

Norwegian Cardamom Buns

Hence the first time I vlog I did it with comfort and friendship in mind. The ingredients are simple, there is nothing daunting. For those of you that are yeast weary this three part mini-cooking series should help connect the dots and enable you to throw your caution to the wind. Time for hot buns in the oven? You will not be disappointed – or at least I never was.

 

Hot Norwegian Buns

Ingredients

1 cube butter (1/2 cup)
2 ¾ cups milk
3 (50g) cubes cake yeast
¾ cup sugar
3 ½ tsp cardamom
6 cups flour

Directions

In medium size pot, heat the milk and butter until warm (do not boil). Temperature should be warm to the touch but not hot.

In a large bowl, crumble the yeast blocks. Add in 1/3 of the milk and butter mixture, stirring until yeast is dissolved. Add in sugar and cardamom and stir until mixed. Add in approximately 2 cups of the flour and stir. Repeat two more times, until dough reaches desired consistence. It should easily pull away from the sides of the bowl with the mixing spoon. (We had to add in another 1/2 cup of flour).

Let sit to rise approx 45-60 minutes.

Take 1/2 of dough and place on floured surface. Roll around in the flour until it is no longer sticky to the touch. To roll into the ball shape, dip palm of hand in flour, take a small handfull of dough and press down and begin rolling in clockwise direction (take additional flow on palm of hand as needed). As dough takes form, you will want to raise your hand slightly and allow the ball of dough to be cupped by your fingers.

Bake at 450 degrees for approx 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Footnote: While I am told these are intended to be more of a dessert or tea bun I loved to eat them any time of day or night because they were wonderful. If you want to save some for another day, it is best to freeze them once cooled and then to reheat you can use either a toaster oven (my preference because it makes the crust a little more crispy) or a microwave on low for a few minutes.

 

Studio Time…buns on hold

Just when I thought I was ready to post the 1st vlog for www.bowllicker.com I had a fun Staycation interlude – I was invited back to be on the SF Bay Area local show – View from the Bay. The menu simply Twitted @viewfromthebay:Spicy shrimp, veggie and chorizo kebabs. Plus, chocolate kebabs for dessert.

As always, Spencer and Janelle were the ever gracious host and hostess. This time the microwave malfunction was avoided all together and I was moved to the opening act on the show vs. the closing act from the previous visit. The real benefit of this placement was that this time I *was* able to prepare both recipes without running out of time. I even had time to joke around a bit prior to the start of the show when I asked them if they ever had to taste something that was really awful on camera. They clearly thought this was funny – and eventually responded with something close to, “We’ve been lucky to have some great dishes on this show, no complaints here.”

I was truly honored when at the end of the segment Janelle told me just how much she loved that marinade for the shrimp, “It is the BEST marinade I’ve ever had on shrimp!” (to be exact). I happily offered her the shrimp we marinated on the show along with the accompanying accouterments and despite her polite decline I insisted that she take them home and make them for dinner.

Post show, I had the honor of hanging out with someone simply known as Spartacus. This was great fun because we were behind the set, show still in progress, I had finished cooking the kabobs and cleaning up when he suggested that we take some of the remaining marshmallows and roast them on the gas burner. It was like BBQing in the rain, or having breakfast for dinner – unconventional and yet one of those moments that makes you smile from ear to ear.

In honor of Round Table Pizza’s big anniversary they gave everyone in the audience a pizza box and a gift certificate for a free pizza. Yes, you guessed it, the last thing I wanted to do after two days of cooking and preparations was to go home and cook some more so I opted for Plan B. Pizza for EVERYONE and well it did the job and here I sit relaxing and writing to you.

Thanks to all those that made today possible, family, friends and the people over at the station – Jess in particular who was kind enough to ask me back. And as for those buns I am threatening to vlog about…they really are up next!

Featured recipes:

*Spicy Shrimp, Veggie and Chorizo Kebabs
*Marshmallow Chocolate Skewers

Spicy Shrimp, Veggie and Chorizo Kebabs

Ingredients

2 large garlic cloves, pressed
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons pure chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined (approx 15)
8 small chorizo (about 1/2 pound total), sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 large lemons, juiced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
12 small red potatoes, quartered
2 medium yellow onions, cubed
long wooden skewers

Directions

In a large zip lock bag mix together garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, lemon juice and olive oil.

Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Refrigerate.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the chorizo and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Let cool slightly.

Par boil bell peppers and potatoes for 3 -5 minutes.

Cut bell peppers, onion, potato ingredients into a wide piece.

Tuck a chorizo slice in the crook of a shrimp and thread onto a skewer; the shrimp should be attached at both ends. Alternate with bell pepper, potato and onion. Push it to the end of the skewer and repeat with 2 more shrimp and chorizo slices, etc. Using more skewers, repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Grill the kebabs over a hot fire, turning once or twice, until charred and the shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.



Marshmallows Chocolate Skewers

Ingredients

1 bag large size marshmallows
1 container chocolate dipping sauce
1 container sprinkles
1 watermelon
1 package long wooden skewers

Directions

Cut watermelon in half and hollow-out one side. Place face down on a platter.

Heat chocolate in microwave.

Using blunt side, skewer marshmallows, dip in chocolate and add sprinkles. Place in watermelon for display purposes. Repeat!

My first time…

There is a first time for everything and somehow there is a sense of excitement as I divulge this post.

A friend of mine @justinkistner suggested to me, oh-not-so-long-ago, that I try some video blogging of other people’s recipes. I pondered that idea and then took it to the next step- why not video great recipes from other people with them in it. Not that one idea is mutually exclusive from the other but rather as two complimentary parts of a whole concept. The idea had been mulled over before (my friend Rosa wanted me to cook on camera many a time over) but only in the sense of something done along the lines of the food channel – but Justin broke it down and talked me through it. My cooking vlogs didn’t have to be perfect, and they didn’t have to be cut/edited/produced – done in one take segments raw and real. Why not? Why not be real? As the days pass I become more of a dichotomy of someone breaking free of a traditionally cast/scoped profession. Schooled in PR, I should be *different* – coiffed, rehearsed, scripted and yet I move more into the realm of real me than I ever imagined possible. The majority of the people in my life are bemused by my behavior and use words like ‘transparent’ or ‘open’ when referring to my ability to share my thoughts with complete and utter strangers. While it is certainly nice on programs like Facebook to ask you: “Are you my friend” we are hardly friends unless the definition has changed but it does make that ‘open ness’ less daunting and gently pushes us towards the realm of comfort. I’ve jumped over that and I am comfortable with revealing a lot – a lot more than I would have ever imagined possible and while there are others far more extreme than I am in the social media world of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et al – I do offer a glimpse of real.
Just me,
talking to just you
if you care to read and/or listen.

No promises, no smoke and mirrors, just a bit about what I find interesting. So unlike what you *may* have thought this post was really going to reveal about my ‘first time’ (mind out of gutter please) it is REALLY about becoming myself for the first time…warts and all. So onto my next post with an equally interesting title: Baking Sweet Hot Norwegian Buns. Dare me? Game on! After all this IS A FOOD BLOG (on most days). 😉 Or is it now also a food Vlog? Let’s the Vlogging begin.

Jingoistic Belligerence

So in case you think that I am using words together that don’t mean diddlysquat well you are partially correct. But jingoistic is such a wonderfully under-utilized word that I figured what the frack. Why not attempt to impress you (or not) with my insufficient grasp of the proper use of the English language.

The point? Good times with good friends don’t have to make sense. It is about fun and laughs and nonsensical moments that make you laugh until your sides hurt. And as always it is these moments that are underscored by food. Not only was my weekend away with one of my BFF’s wonderfully reminiscent but captivating when we attempted to closely examine our lives at this juncture. As conversation rambled we moved to discuss her grasp of social media and as one might imagine the conversation took off again. While she may not be queen of the hill on this topic when it comes to food she is balls to the wall. (Before you think me foul mouthed: I believe that this British expression originated with the early steam engines whose governors were a pair of spinning balls, which described a larger and larger circle as the demanded speed, and hence their rotational speed, increased to control the steam valve and hence the flow of steam from boiler to pistons. One can also say to go “balls out” which means to throw caution to the winds and charge full-steam ahead.)…A glimpse? A tavola for lunch:

The eve’s meal: gorgonzola polenta with sherry sautéed mushrooms, panko crusted pork fillets over a bed of arugula and a apple blackberry crumble. Beverage du soir: Champagne with St. Germain.

If you haven’t met @suezumout then you should check out her profile. She’s a closet #foodie (closet because she hasn’t found the power of the blog yet but I predict she will share some of her food magic soon. She also works wonders with some classic expressions that only one of your closest friends could say to you with a huge grin on her face, like, “Oh, I am way funnier than you so just wait until I really start to Twitter. I will be unstoppable and people just might love me.” It’s true, if she gets around to being a regular on the Twittersphere then you will certainly love her. She even balked at the title of this post and said, “To be honest, the only thing jingoistic about this post is the Italian menu that has prevailed this weekend. I belligerently replied, “Well, I can make this work.” (Voilà!- Jingoistic Belligerence as a title for this post is explained.) In part, I could stretch the truth and *make* this blog title work until one actually looks up the definition of jingoistic: Excessive patriotism or aggressive nationalism especially with regards to foreign policy. Hummm… perhaps it was a stretch but at least I was willing to go out on a limb with a flaming torch of silliness. Nuff said. Oh wait, did I mention she is so determined to make you like her she has spent the last three hours trying to get Twitter on her iPhone so she can “bring on the competition” which are truly fighting words for someone who had just enough of champagne to be delusional.