Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Ready For My Close Up

So...I had to make this video.

It had to represent my personality, my cooking, and all aspects of my life.

In three minutes.


After one false start, one delightful day making turkey meatballs (which quickly became a day of darkness when I realized we forgot to press "record"), and one marathon day makin' chicken.

Here's what I came up with.

To celebrate, I'm eating a flatbread pizza with grilled zucchini and eggplant, onion, oil cured olives, pepadews, pesto, Asiago and goat cheese.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The ShoeClad Count

Last night was a magical experience:  a simple supper enjoyed alfresco on a beautiful Chicago summer night with a trio of lesbians.  I felt like the Barefoot Contessa.

If she lived in Chicago.  And she had her lady friends over instead of her bevvy of gays.  And she were a dude.

I would be the ShoeClad Count.

Here is how the episode would have played out:

Cue Intro Music.  Close up on Scott.

I just got a last minute deal on a flight to Chicago.  My friend Amy is hosting my visit, and in return I'm going to make a light summer supper for her and her friends.  It's a backyard gathering with old friends, ShoeClad style.

Cut to Opening Theme Music and Food Montage.  There's a knife slicing through a fennel bulb.  There's Scott passing a platter of vittles and laughing.  Berries are tumbling into a colander.  Scott is blending soup.  Mmmm...look at that yummy salad.  Scott and J plop down on the couch with ice cream.  Uh-oh, here comes Buster Dog.  They laugh.  Fade to Logo.

My dear friend Amy was kind enough to open her home to me at the last minute, so to thank her I thought it would be great to have a couple of friends over for wine and cheese and an elegant backyard supper.  Most lesbians are vegetarians, feeding on twigs, berries, pumpkin soup, and salsa.  Fortunately, these gals are pescaterians and love seafood, and I thought, "Why not do scallops with grapefruit and fennel."  And that's exactly what I'm going to make.

First I want to start by making the salad.  Grapefruit and fennel are a perfect combination: the tartness of the grapefruit mixes deliciously with the sweet, anise taste of the fennel.  Slice the fennel...(and the ShoeClad Count assemble the delicious salad filled with grapefruit, fennel, julienne yellow peppers, honey and tarragon)

The salad is all set to go.  You know, since dinner is going to be so light, let's start off with a cheese plate to enjoy with some wine.  I'll call Amy to see if she can pick up some cheese.

Cut to Amy standing on front porch.  Her cell phone rings.

A:  Hey Scott! (trying to not look at the camera) I'm just about to walk in the door.

S:  Well turn back around.  I thought a cheese plate would be fantastic way to start things off tonight.

A:  But I'm about to walk in the house.

S:  I was thinking two firm cheeses and one blue.

A:  Well, I've been running around all day, and I would really like to...

S:  And maybe some olives, grapes, and almonds to go along with it.

A:  But...

S:  And some crusty bread.  Thanks!

Cut back to Scott

Scallops are actually a mollusk, and you won't believe how absolutely easy they are to prepare.  Once seared they take on a beautiful caramel color and are firm and sweet and perfectly delicious.  Let me show you how I do it. 

Cut to Scallop montage and voice over.  Perfectly manicured hands patting dry scallops. Close up on same manicured hands sprinkling salt and pepper on scallops. Close up on scallops entering a hot, dry pan.  Pretty hands using tongs to flip scallops.  Same lovely hands placing scallops atop a beautiful mound of Grapefruit and Fennel salad.

Now that looks like a simple supper that even the most finicky of lesbians would love.

Cut to Friend's Eating Montage, in a beautifully appointed backyard on a gorgeous summer night.  Prosecco is popped.  We over hear bits of conversation.

"These cheeses are delicious."

"Oh, Scott. The scallops are perfectly cooked!  So bright and clean..."

"Heather, with your hair like that, you look like a whore from a Bible movie epic."

A beautiful late night summer supper with friends.  How bad can that be.

Closing music and Fade to Black.

Please know that this is merely satire and that I kneel at the altar of Ina Garten.  I would eat anything and everything that woman makes, and my biggest wish is to live in her barn and bake scones with her all day long.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Still in a Sandwich Kinda Mood

We are nearing the end of 'mater season.   So take advantage of the yummy, juicy goodness and play around with another classic sandwich:  the BLT.

I add chicken and avocado to the mix along with a spicy chipotle mayonnaise to liven up the situation.  Swap out the toasted bread with a warm ciabatta roll, and you have a delicious sandwich with attitude:  a CABLT!

Try it!  You'll like it!

As you are an intelligent soul, dear reader, I'm going to assume that you can fry up some bacon and slice up some tomatoes and avocado.  Try making The Perfect Chicken Breast and add that to the party.  Then spice it up with some chipotle mayonnaise.

Chipotle Mayonnaise
Please forgive the light.  It's an overcast day and I work with the sun.

Using a lot of help from already prepared mayo, this spicy little sauce is great on a variety of sandwiches! If you want to spice it up even more, add some additional adobo sauce (you know...that spicy love in which those smoky peppers reside).

1 cup mayonnaise
2 medium chipotle peppers
2 Tbl cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime

Throw all of that goodness into a blender or food processor and let it whir until smooth.  Done.  And delicious.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hail to the Sandwich King!

While I was across the pond, being all artsy fartsy with the chillrun, Jeff Mauro, The Sandwich King, was chosen as the Next Food Network Star.  Throughout the entire season, he was funny, personable, and made some really great sandwiches. 

Well, sir, in honor of your coronation (and due to the fact that my butt is still jet lagged and I haven't quite made it to the store yet), I offer you one of my fave comfort foods:  the humble tuna melt.  However, like Ina, I turn the volume up by adding fresh dill, scallions, capers, stone ground mustard, and oil-cured olives to the delicious albacore and top it off with some extra sharp cheddar.  Finish it with baby spinach bad can that be?

Congratulations, Jeff!  Long may you reign.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Chapter

I have just had a life changing experience.  One of those moments that truly tests your mettle; one that celebrates your strengths and exposes your weaknesses which, in turn, presents you with no other option but to grow or perish.

For four years, I was a teacher.

The best group of kids a teacher could ask for.

This morning, after returning from the Farewell Tour with my students in Scotland, marks the first morning I did not make the 40 minute drive to school.  And I'm a little sad.  And I'm a little excited.  It's time for a new chapter.

There will be more foodie fun in the not too distant future. 

But today, I would like to thank every student, every teenaged actron unit, and every colleague I have had the honor and privilege to work alongside.  You have made me a better teacher, a stronger person, and you have taught me to value all of life's experiences.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Sorry I've been gone for a while!  It's been a crazy couple of days: whirlwind trip to St. Louis to audition for season 8 of Food Network Star (which went extremely well...was asked to be put on tape, so fingers crossed!) and now I'm getting ready for the Farewell Tour to the American High School Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland with my kids.

I will see you in a couple of weeks!

Until then, have fun in the kitchen and keep playing with your food!