Friday, November 27, 2009

Pomegranate Rosemary Royale

A simple twist on the traditional kir royale-blends tart-sweet pomegranate juice with herbal notes from a rosemary infused syrup. A perfect jewel colored drink for the holidays.

Pomegranate Rosemary Royale
Serves 4
Recipe from Cooking Light
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
2 cups Champagne or sparkling wine

1. Combine 1/4 cup water with sugar in small saucepan; bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add rosemary; let stand 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
2. Pour 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice and 1 tablespoon rosemary syrup into 4 Champagne glasses. Top each serving with 1/2 cup Champagne. Serve immediately.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New York, New York

 "In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of-There is nothing you can't do, now you're in New York.  These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you, let's hear it for NewYork, New York, New York."
Alicia Keyes- Lyrics from Empire State of Mind

New York City is the largest city in the United States with a population of more than 8 million people. There is no other place like it, in the world.
Words are not necessary when describing our experience. The photos tell the story.



Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cheaper by the Dozen

What do you do when you have an opportunity to come home with farm fresh eggs?  I am not talking a sweet dozen or maybe two. I am talking about 16 dozen! When I do the math, that's 192 eggs! Of course silly, I said yes! Saying yes, does not equal to having a clue as to what to do with 192 eggs only that saying no was not an option. I had 192 eggs and I was feeling lucky!
There are times in your marriage when you are reminded why you married your spouse. For me, this was one of those moments. His look upon entering the house with my lucky loot was priceless. All he could do was muster  "Woman ( I swear it is a love name) "what are you going to do with all of those eggs?" He knew the answer, and he was correct "No clue" was my reply. He bent his head slightly and gently shook his head from side to side and helped me put the eggs away.
Now, those reading my blog post are thinking the same thing....What did she do with all of those eggs? I am proud to say that all of my eggs have been consumed. Yes, a few dozen were placed in the hands of friends to enjoy. We discovered a lot of new recipes. My son learned to make perfect fried eggs over medium, which he has discovered that he loves served up wih rice as an afternoon lunch, or a quick dinner before soccer practice and most importantly....  We finally get it! Eggs are not just for breakfast anymore!
One of the recipes that we enjoyed frequently with our abundance of eggs was this Barefoot Contessa herbed baked eggs recipe. This dish served up with toast and a simple salad is over the top! Simple enough to enjoy on a weeknight or elegant enough to serve your guests for brunch or dinner.

Herbed-Baked Eggs
(serves 2)
Recipe from Barefoot Contessa
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
6 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Toasted French bread or sourdough or brioche, for serving.

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.
Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups ( you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. ( It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking).
Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 a tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the white of the eggs are almost cooked. ( Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly). The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.


Remind me to tell you why I have 20lbs of sweet potatoes and 20lbs of fuji apples too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

For the Love of Martinis

My husband has a well earned reputation for the cocktails he can shake-up for family and friends. This is one of my favorite flavored martinis, and is a wonderful cocktail to serve guests or to relax and enjoy yourself.

Lemon Drop Martini Cocktail
(Serves 2)
2 lemon wedges
Super fine Sugar
1/2 cup of good quality of citrus flavored vodka
1/2 cup orange liquer such as Cointreau
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lemon-lime soda
1 Tablespoon sweet and sour mix

Push lemon wedge onto the rim of 1 martini glass;rotate glass to coat rim with lemon juice. Repeat with second lemon wedge and martini glass. (Note: I like to place my martini glasses in the freezer before using them). Discard lemon wedges.
Place sugar on a shallow plate. Dip rim of martini glasses into sugar. Fill cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add remaining ingredients to cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into martini glasses.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chicken Smothered in Gravy

 A lightened American classic. This dish calls for skinless chicken drumsticks, which have only slightly more fat than breasts. Served family style, this dish showcases traditional American flavors while being healthy and delicious.

Chicken Smothered in Gravy
(Serves 4)
Recipe from Food and Wine

2-1/2 tablespoons canola oil
8-3 ounce skinless chicken drumsticks (I used skinless thighs)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1- ounce bacon (1 thick slice) cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips
1-1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 large tomato-peeled, seeded and coarsely choped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup 2-percent milk
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 parsley sprigs plus 2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees. In an ovenproof non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to pan. Cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
2. Add the bacon to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the fat is rendered, 2 minutes. Drain off the fat. Add the remianing 1-1/2 tablespoons of oil to skillet, and stir in the flour until incorporated. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until slightly softened, 3 minutes. Add the tomato and tomato paste and cook, stirring until the tomato softens slightly, 5 minutes. Add the milk and broth and bring to a boil, stirring until slightly thickened, 3 minutes. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet; add the parsley sprigs.
3. Cover the chicken and braise in the oven for 20 minutes, until the meat is cooked through. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter and discard the parsley sprigs.
4. Return the skillet to moderate heat and cook the gravy, whisking constantly, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the chopped parsley, pour the gravy over the chicken legs and serve.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deep Dish Apple Pie

 The hint of citrus that is added to the apple mixture is delightful. This is a perfect way to enjoy all those delicious apples that are in season. This is also a great addition to the Thanksgiving table.

Deep-Dish Apple Pie
Makes: one 10-inch pie
Note: Recipe from Barefoot Contessa
4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered and cored
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on top
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Perfect Pie crust ( see recipe below)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F
2. Cut each apple quarter in thirds crosswise and combine in a bowl with the zests, juices, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
3. Roll out half the pie dough ( see recipe below) and drape it over the pie pan to extend about 1/2 inch over the rim. Don't stretch the dough; if  it's too small, just put it back on the board and re-roll it.
4. Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom piecrust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges of the bottom crust and crimp the two together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar and cut four or five slits.
5. Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm.

Perfect Pie Crust
Makes: two 10-inch crusts

12 Tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons ( about 1/2 cup) ice water

1. Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Guest Blog Post-The Simple Grace of Sharing a Meal

My husband and I are headed to New York City this weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We are planning to explore the local neighborhoods and enjoy the sights, sounds and food of New York City. Christine from Fresh, Local and Best has armed us with some wonderful local food establishments to visit.  This would include, the Chelsea Market, which she tells us is where the Food Network tapes most of their shows, such as the Iron Chef.  We are also planning to visit The Green Table, Amy's Bread Making, Burdick Chocolate, Bouchon Bakery and Ippudo NY for Asian noodles and pork buns! Thank you Christine! We are going to experience all your recommendations.

While away, I have asked Lin from The Absence of Alternatives to be a guest blogger. She has graciously agreed.  She is funny and honest and has a very interesting perspective on life that is contagious.  I have no doubt that you will enjoy her blog post. Please take the time to visit her blog at  I can promise that you will not be disappointed.

The Simple Grace of Sharing a Meal
Velva has kindly invited me to be a guest blogger here. I am honored to be part of this wonderful place, her private heaven that she so selflessly shares with us. There are many blogs out there that celebrate the art of cooking. What drew me to Velva's and soon made me a fan, is her belief in and her unabashed celebration of eating as a ritual through which we become closer with each other.
I was struck the first time I read it on the banner  "sustaining our bonds with one another through the simple grace of sharing a meal" Could this Southern belle be Chinese?

I thought, because that is the Chinese attitude towards food. Well, we don't really put it in words so poetic. We say cryptic things like "A person is as important as the Emperor when s/he  is sitting down for a meal" THAT is also the attitude towards meals many cultures hold: the French, the Itailian, the Spanish, and so on.
When a friend of mine lamented about a girlfriend's betrayal by invoking this "rule" literally, in her litany, "But she has come to dinner with me and my mother. SHE BROKE WITH US!",  I learned that in some socio/cultural circles, sharing a meal, "breaking bread", has an even deeper symbolic meaning: you have come to my house to share a meal with my family. By this act, we mutually agree, implicitly, that we are now friends. You are now accepted into the "circle of trust".
The simple joy of enjoying great food and great friends. The ritual. The community. The circle of trust. These are things that I have not been able to recreate in the suburban Midwest. No. There is no Joy Luck  Club in our lfe.
I agonized over what I could possibly contribute to Velva's foodblog. I cannot cook. I have two left hands which render my dexterity to Zero. (Think: sewing, knitting, soap carving, video games, Voguing). I feed my children boxed Macaroni and Cheese, and all sorts of processeed, frozen food. I eat instant noodles from a pot over the kitchen sink on some nights. As a feast, I treat myself by using a proper bowl, and drink a glass of vodka and cranberry juice.
I know. I am an abomination of a Chinese woman. I let the 5000 years of historical grandeur down.
I don't even try any more: I stress out over the sheer number of foods my children will not touch. My 6 year-old will basically only eat food that is white: white bread, plain pasta, white rice, white pizza. Nothing can touch each other. (He did ask me to include the fact that he LOVES broccoli. "So the other mothers will be jealous of you" Steamed for 6 minutes. No more, no less). My husband, though he would certainly deny this vehemently, holds a puritanical attitude towards eating: I Hunger, I eat. I leave. Or is that Roman actually?
Once I spent 3 hours making a special dish, from scratch. After he finished the meal, my husband said,  "It is very good" . "But I probably don't need to have it again".
When we visited my family, the irony in my life was further magnified since my brother and his son are both accomplished chefs in Japanese cuisine. As plates, after plates, of skillfully made and artfully arranaged dishes were presented to my "American family", I gave my boys THE death stare to make sure they keep their polite expressions on. They would end up eating only the white rice and horrifying my brother or nephew and his entire staff. I would end up eating 99% of the food. Going home is VERY TRAUMATIC to my waistline, let me just put it this way....
I dug through the pictures of my trip back home this March and realized: My poor kids! In two weeks they were dragged to Japanese restaurants four times!  Instead of eating the food, they pose for their pictures to be taken with the food. That itself has become a ritual.

"Take a picture of the boys with this before YOU eat it!

There are also tons and tons of pictures of them goofing off with their uncles and aunts, their cousins, and their maternal granparents. Even the chefs and the wait staff.

Perhaps, the point is not how delicious the food is. Perhaps the point is  "It's the people, stupid"
"Through the simple grace of sharing a meal" Ms. Velva, I salute you. With that big barrel of sake.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Martini, Two Martini, Three Martini, The Floor

If you have been following my blog, you will know that we find any reason to get together. This past weekend was not any different. We invited a few of our friends and asked them to shake up a few of their favorite martinis with us. We served them up in shot glasses.  As always, we are never disappointed. Here are few highlights from the Martini Tasting.

A Yellow Cake Martini that included vanilla vodka, pineapple juice and a splash of Rose's Pomegrante Cocktail twist.

Friends helping friends shake up good martinis

The classic shaken gin martini

The chocolate martini

Appetizers brought along by friends to enjoy with our martinis