Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Life with Snow White

Oh my God!  You cook like one of the seven dwarfs!

This is what my Valentine exclaimed as he entered the kitchen.

Naturally, this made me Happy.  Clearly J understands how joyous my time dancing around a soup pot makes me.  However, I quickly felt Dopey when I realized he was talking about the disastrous state in which I had left the kitchen.  I became a little Grumpy for surely he knows that I am never Bashful when I am concocting culinary delights for us.  I may be a little Sneezy from being heavy handed on the pepper.  Maybe I should see a Doc and get my head looked at.


You can whistle while you clean up the kitchen, Snow White, Sleepy's going to bed.

J exclaimed this with a loving smile in his voice.  He has also described me as a crafty whirling dervish who scurries about gathering up everything I see and throws it all up in the air expecting fireworks.  When I get fireworks, it's sublime.  When no fireworks occur, I harrumph and start all over again in hopes of making an even bigger light display...which I think is pretty swell.

Beet and Caramelized Onion Tarts

2 beets
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 Tbl butter
2 Tbl chili oil
3 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp ground sage
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
salt n' pepper
1 sheet puff pastry
Shaved pecorino (or crumbled bleu or goat cheese)

For the onions
In a small sauce pan, heat butter and oil over low heat until butter melts.  Stir in sage and add rosemary sprigs.  Add sliced onions and stir to coat.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook over low heat, stirring about every five minutes until onions are nice and caramelized (about 30 minutes).  Remove rosemary stems and discard.

For the beets
In a small sauce pan, bring water, sugar, 1 1/2 Tbl salt, and 1 Tbl freshly ground pepper to a boil.  Wash and peel the beets.  Using a mandolin, slice beets into thin disks.  Add beets to the pot and cook for 3 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow beats to remain in the hot liquid for an additional 2 minutes.  Strain beets and separate them to dry completely.

For the tarts
Preheat oven to 400. Defrost puff pastry according to directions.  On a lightly floured board, cut pastry into four rectangles and roll out into approximately 5" by 4" tarts.  Using a knife, create a 1/2" border around the edge being careful not to  slice all the way through.  Inside the border, prick a gazillion holes with a fork to prevent pastry from rising.  Place on baking sheet

Layer beets into pastry, slightly overlapping.  Each tarts uses about 6 to 8 slices.  Using a spoon, spread a thin layer of the onions on top. Throw those suckers in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Take tarts out of oven and top with your choice of cheese.  Return to oven for an additional five minutes until cheese has melted.  Drizzle with a SMALL amount of balsamic.  Serve with wilted spinach and beet greens or a simple arugula salad.

Monday, September 13, 2010

An EndSummer Night's Panic

Last week, in response to the "official" end of summer that is Labor Day, I went into a full on panic.

I was mourning the loss of free time, a dip in finances, and solemnly lamenting the transformation into "Mr. Duff" and bid "Scott" a fond farewell for the next nine months.

My response:  to cook up a storm.

I made pesto and green goddess dressing.  I made minted grilled eggplant to incorporate into couscous and paprika covered roasted chicken.  There were fennel and caramelized onion turkey burgers, sweet potato fries with curried mayonnaise, and mango and strawberry fro yo with basil.  And J was in Mississippi celebrating his parent's 50th wedding anniversary.

It was nothing less than manic.

When J returned to Memphis, two days later, I had wanted to make something special for him.  His request:  pasta.


Well...I had some ground turkey still on hand, some spinach penne, tomatoes, and the bounty of the past few days in the fridge.

Here is what I made.

Okay, so this is with chicken and not turkey balls,
but it's still tasty.
Spinach Penne with Sauteed Tomatoes and Turkey Meatballs

1 lb spinach penne
1 lb cherry tomatoes
2 Tbl chili oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup pesto
5 oz fresh spinach
Turkey Meatballs (recipe follows)

Get that water boiling for the pasta.  Once it comes to a rolling boil, add a bunch of salt (do you like the exact measurements?) and let that penne cook.  Roughly 13 minutes.  After six minutes, in a large preheated saute pan, throw in the 'maters. Do that fancy chef tossy thing and let those bad lads release their juices.  After four minutes, add garlic.  Cook for an additional two minutes.  Throw in parsley.

Before draining pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Drain pasta and return to the pot.  Add pesto and tomatoes and toss to coat.  Add spinach and hot pasta water to help wilt.  Spoon into a bowl and top with Turkey Meatballs.

Turkey Meatballs

Taking the time to caramelize onions and fennel not only give the meatballs tremendous flavor but adds the necessary fat to prevent them from drying out.  'Cuz no one likes dry turkey balls.

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 large Vidalia onion, sliced
1/2 funnel bulb, sliced
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup bread crumbs

In a small sauce pan, heat butter and oil over low heat until butter has melted.  Add onions and fennel and season with salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid to speed up the caramelizing process.  That's right...we're caramelizing these suckers.  Stir occasionally and be patient.  This takes about 30 minutes.  Once they have turned a lovely golden color, transfer mixture to food processor and puree until a smooth consistency.

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, egg, cheese, bread crumbs, and onion/fennel mixture with your hands, until all ingredients are incorporated.  Using a small ice cream scoop to portion, roll turkey into meatballs and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Annoyingly Annoyed

I know I have to be the most annoying person in the world right now.

"Why," you may ask?

Because I am filled with the smug, self-satisfaction of not only being visited by Genius who enabled me to figure out which play my students will take to the American High School Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, but, through my diligent work ethic and proper preparation, I have simultaneously created a brilliant dinner AND lunch for tomorrow.

And my camera...died.

No photos for you.  But use that little movie camera inside your noggin and live the fantasy.


Rosemary and Thyme roasted New Potatoes
Oven Roasted Trout with lemon and dill
Sauteed Spinach


A delightful salad of the Perfect Chicken breast, Minted Grilled Eggplant, peas, and baby spinach soon to be tossed in homemade pesto.

I know.  Even I want to slap myself.

Oven Roasted Trout with Lemon and Dill

1 dressed Rainbow Trout (with head keep it interesting)
1 lemon, sliced into rounds
4-5 sprigs of dill
a healthy drizzle of Chili Oil
a liberal salt 'n peppering

Preheat oven to 400 (perhaps you are roasting potatoes already).  Place trout on baking sheet and oil that bad lad inside and out.  Season the cavity with salt and pepper.  Layer lemon and dill inside cavity.  Add any extra slices on top.  Pop that baby in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.


Saturday, September 4, 2010


I've had a hell of a week.

The beginning of the school year is always filled with challenges:  learning students' names and getting them excited about classes, meeting with parents and discovering their expectations for you and their kids,  getting your brain into "school mode," grading, emailing, fundraising, driving, teaching, smiling, working out, cooking, cleaning, ironing, and casting the fall show...which always gives me heartburn as I crush the dreams of aspiring young actors with the posting of a cast list.

I look forward to Saturday.

It's the one day when I drink coffee out of a coffee cup and not a travel mug.  I get to sleep past 6 a.m. I can sit on my butt and watch cooking shows or that America's Next Top Model marathon.  I can go to the gym.  Or not.  I can take a long walk with the pup.  And I can concoct culinary creations.

But sometimes, it's best to keep it I can take a nap.

Herb Baked Eggs

These eggs are so simple to make and are beyond tasty.  Feel free to mix it up with the herbs.  Rosemary, oregano, cilantro, whatever you have on hand.  Add some toasty bread and a simple salad and you've got a meal!

3 extra large eggs
1 Tbl butter
1 Tbl cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp basil, chopped
1 tsp tarragon, chopped
1 green onion, green parts only, minced
a little parm
a little salt 'n pepper

Preheat oven to 450.  In an oven safe dish, place butter and cream and pop in the oven.

Crack eggs into a small bowl and set aside.  Combine herbs, onion, and garlic and set aside.  Once the butter and cream starts to bubble, remove from oven.  Immediately pour in eggs, salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle the herb mixture on top.  If'n you feel like it, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top.  Pop it back in the oven and cook for 5-7 minutes, until whites are firm yet the yolks are still runny.

If you have a little bit of the herb mixture left over, toss into a salad of fresh spinach and drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.