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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: 2010-05-09

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Looking Back at Mother's Day

It occurs to me now, a week later, that I forgot to show you the picture I took of the food I made for Mother's Day! Sigh.  Senior moment, right here.

Anyway, here's a look at the bounty:

Salad, homemade bread sticks (one day I will remember to take pictures of the process of making them because they're soooo good and soooo easy!), sauteed spinach (post to come!), zucchini with olives and capers, spaghetti and chicken parmesan (plus a few cutlets without cheese).  The sauce was also homemade.

Dessert? Why yes!

Strawberry shortcake, anyone?

Mom was happy!

I told her to make a face like she was eating the greatest meal of her life.  Nothing like telling your Mom what to do on Mother's Day.

I leave nothing to chance when it comes to the blog.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Zucchini, Lidia Style

I grew up watching Lidia Bastianich on PBS.  Every Saturday afternoon, I would settle in to see what new and interesting Italian locale I'd be whisked away to.  She tells the best stories and features the most wonderful slice-of-life scenes - digging for clams in the Adriatic, at the fish market, at a family feast.  And then she would cook.  Oh, she cooks the most wonderful food.  I think what I like best about her is how authentic she seems, and how simple her food is.  Like Paula over at bell'alimento says, beautiful food doesn't have to be complicated.  And Lidia appears to subscribe to that philosophy as well.

Last weekend I caught a telethon on PBS and there was Lidia, cooking it up both in the studios and in her own kitchen.  She made this recipe that I totally fell in love with - garlicky zucchini with black olives and capers.  YUM! I decided that I would make it as a side dish for Mother's Day.  Keep in mind, I was only watching her.  I received no instruction as to the ratio of ingredients so I tried to estimate everything.

To start: Our ingredients.  I used 4 small zucchini but you could use 2 regular or large ones.  The guys I had were pretty small.  I cut them into eighths.  Also, 4 smashed cloves of garlic, capers, anchovies, oil cured black olives (which I smushed to take out the pits), and olive oil.  Delightful.

I'm sure that if you don't like anchovies you could leave them out.  I happen to enjoy them when they're dissolved in olive oil...which they were for this recipe! Barely coat the bottom of your saute pan with olive oil and heat it up.  Then place 3 or 4 anchovies in the hot oil and keep them moving. 

Embrace the anchovy.

As you can see from the picture above, they break down and sort of dissolve into the oil.  It's really neat to watch! Just be careful the oil isn't so hot that you start to burn them - that's really gross.  Not like I'd know from experience or anything...

Anyway, once the anchovies are broken down, add your smashed garlic cloves.  I just left them in big chunks.  Lidia removes hers prior to serving, while I kept them in.  Yum!

Then toss in your zucchini.  The important thing here is to let the zucchini really carmelize in the pan.  The sweetness combined with the tang of the olives and capers is killer! Lidia added a decent amount of salt, which I was wary of seeing as how the olives and capers were going to join the party at some point.  So I was less liberal.  It's a matter of taste, I guess.

...starting to brown up...

Then add the olives (a handful) and capers (I used around a tablespoon, maybe a little more).  Keep that zucchini in there until...this happens:

Here's the finished product!

I love the color on the garlic and of course the color on the zucchini.  It really darkened up, didn't it? This is a very tasty dish, but one which only I seemed to enjoy.  Maybe it was the anchovies, I don't know.

Still, I think you should give this one a shot.  As you can see, it's really easy and you never know - you might just love it as much as I do!


Sharing with...


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Q is for Quiche

Look at that crust, would you? The flakiness!

I remember eating quiche exactly once in my life.  It was a Thanksgiving many, many, many moons ago.  For the life of me I can't remember who made it - normally my family doesn't go in for any divergence from the usual Thanskgiving fare.  Maybe that's why the quiche sticks out in my mind the way it does.

By the way, if I'm wrong about it being a Thanksgiving and any family members are reading this, feel free to correct me.  I remember being little and I remember being at Cioci Ann's old house and I remember the table being extended.  To me, that means Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I couldn't tell you now if I liked it or not because, well, it was 20+ years ago.

Since I wasn't exactly bred with quiche running through my veins (ew, there's a pretty mental image for you), it's never been a blip on my radar.

But then again, neither was sushi until I decided to give it a shot.  And now it's like one of my very favorite things.  Maybe I would feel the same way about quiche?

Do I spy cranberries in there?

Turns out, as I'm reading more and more about it, quiche seems like it would be right up my culinary alley.  I mean, honestly, once you get the crust part down (and let me just take a moment to thank my food processor in advance for the work it will surely be performing on my behalf), and you break your eggs and add your cheese and cream/milk/half-and-half (I think I'd use the fat-free kind to see what happens), you pretty much have a blank canvas on which to play.

What would I use? Mushrooms? Sun-dried tomatoes? Spinach? Asparagus, perhaps? Shallots? Olives? Maybe I'd get particularly sassy and use sausage or bacon?

What kind of cheese? Swiss? Cheddar? Feta? Mmmmm....

Yes, I WOULD enjoy a slice.  Or half.

The mind literally boggles at the possibilities.  It's sort of like pizza - you have the chance to come up with endless combinations of toppings based upon your personal tastes.

And naturally this will be based solely upon my personal tastes because I'm getting one of those crazy psychic feelings that Rob will not be eating any of this.  In fact...wait, my crystal ball is a little cloudy...ahh, yes...he will wrinkle his nose in distaste.  More.  For.  Me.

So I'm thinking of trying a quiche this weekend.  Of course I'll let you know how it goes!

So tell me: Have you ever made quiche? Do you like to eat it? If so, what's your favorite? Better yet! Do you have a recipe you'd like to share?

Sharing with my friends over at Alphabe-Thursday!

Jenny Matlock


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Favorite Restaurant EVER!

Last week, I told you all about the first time I ate lobster.  That was a good, good night.

And, like all good vacations, many more good nights were in store.  For this post, the second in my Disney series, I want to tell you about my favorite restaurant.

Of. All. Time.

It's that serious.

I'm talking about The California Grill, which is located at the top of The Contemporary Resort.

Prior to our honeymoon, I had heard nothing but good things about this place.  The food, the view, the service - glowing reviews all around.  That first meal did not disappoint, for sure.  So obviously we were psyched to return. 

And once again, we were extremely pleased.

First, let me tell you that if you're lucky enough to get a table by the window, you'll be treated to an incredible view of the Magic Kingdom and the other MK resorts - The Grand Floridian and The Polynesian.

Now.  On to the food.

CG is famous for their flatbreads.  For some time prior to our trip, the ovens were down or being repaired or something and we were fairly stricken by the news.  But no fear! By the time we sat down to our meal, this lovely flatbread was on the menu: the most luscious heirloom tomatoes you can imagine, arugula and cheese.  It was intensely flavorful.  Rob doesn't like tomatoes so - SCORE! - I got to eat his.  Yum yum yum!

As if the flatbread wasn't enough, we then BOTH had one of these...

Do you like sushi? Because I love sushi.  My husband is pretty much a sushi novice and he drools over the very thought of this.  Inside the roll itself is crab, tuna and avocado.  As you can see, the pieces are arranged in a circle and topped with a mound of tempura crispies.  Underneath? Tiny baby scallops in spicy fireball sauce.  OFF THE HOOK! I'm serious.  The creamy avocado with the super fresh fish and the crisps? With a little heat? Oh my goodness.  Spicy Kazan Roll.  You're still on the menu and I'm still gonna devour you joyfully.  On my anniversary.  Thank you.

Finally it was time for the entrees.  I was feeling a at this point, but I soldiered on.  Bravely.

This was Rob's entree.  Seared scallops and homemade gnocchi accompanied by pears in a pear/bacon sauce.  That's a mouthful, isn't it? Okay, let me describe it better for you.  It was freaking awesome, accompanied by awesomeness, in a finger-lickingly awesome sauce.  Yeah.  That's easier to understand.

I, on the other hand, decided to stick to sushi.

Yeah.  Check that out.  Did I mention that the CG's sushi chef is one of the top in AMERICA? Oh, I forgot that part? Sorry, I was busy crying over the beauty in front of me.

One roll in particular is my all-time favorite roll ever.  Ever ever ever.  Spicy Kazan, you're #2...

But shrimp tempura roll, you're #1 forever and a day.  Tempura shrimp, mango and rice wrapped in soy paper.  It's really as simple as that.  But the textures and tastes...the salty crispness of the tempura with the sweetness of the mango...I can't ever, ever speak too highly of this roll.  It's just the best.

Then it was time for dessert.  I have to say, I'm not totally thrilled to pieces with the desserts almost anywhere in Disney, save a few exceptions.  But they're still yummy.

I honestly can't tell you who ate what.  They were both chocolate and both good, and both included the sweet anniversary wish.  But thaaaat's about as far as my memory goes.  I think Rob had the one with the ice cream.

Then we savored after-dinner drinks which my husband so generously sprang for...

And we watched the sun set on our 1st anniversary.  It was a magical, 2 hour meal and it was worth every single glorious minute.

I absolutely cannot wait to go back in September to celebrate anniversary #2!


Monday, May 10, 2010

Red Wine Mushrooms and Onions

Do you like steak? I like steak.  Medium rare, thank you very much.    But here at Casa de B, we don't eat a ton of it.  We love it, but we tend to eat more pot roast than steak.  So when we DO have it, it's quite a treat.  Especially when my Mr. B is grilling.  Oh yeah.

There's nothing I love more with a juicy steak than a lovely, wine-infused sauce just poured all over it.

I'm also a huge fan of meaty mushrooms and sweet, sauteed onions.  They're the perfect compliment.

Naturally, I wanted to create a quick and easy sauce that would incorporate all three elements!

So here's what I did:

I chopped up two portobella mushroom caps in large pieces.

Into a pan went a generous drizzle of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter.

Once the butter was melted and everything got all bubbly, I added 2 minced cloves of garlic.  This was stirred around and cooked for only about a minute before the mushrooms were added.

Mmm...they got so nice and brown and tender.  I love them so much.

To this I added around 3/4 cup of red wine.  Yummy.

Then I added 1 thinly sliced small onion.  I didn't brown it beforehand because I really wanted the flavor of the wine to soak into the onions, rather than any browned flavor.  I also gave it a good sprinkle of salt an pepper.  I then let it cook down until the wine had all but evaporated.  This took around, oh, 20 minutes or so.

I mean, look at that.  Just look at it.  All purple and glisteny and wonderful.  And oh, boy, does it look good over a steak.

Tastes good, too! The onions are so sweet, having soaked up all that wine.  And those mushrooms...I can't even describe it.

And you know where else this is good? Over pasta.

Because I totally went there for lunch the next day.  It was worth a try, let me tell you.

Give it a shot - it's incredible.  I know you'll enjoy it!