Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cooking with Friends

Usually I post about meals with recipes I’ve made at home for my family and friends. Today will be different. I did make meals. I will be cooking them for my family and friends in the future as well. The only catch is that I didn’t have to do mise en place for any of it!

Last night I and a group of work colleagues and friends met at Entree Vous for a little meal making craziness. This place is one of the many helpers to working families that has popped up over the last few years. The location close to my workplace opened up for business 4 weeks ago next to one of my favorite sushi restaurants. After trying out a meal I threw a party. I figured I should let everyone know about my great find.

Now you know how much I love to cook at home but some nights… well… the kitchen is simply closed. Got home too late, I’m sick as a dog, the holiday season is driving me crazy, or Crap! I don’t have the key ingredient for salmon mousse … all these have been excuses in my house. On top of that, I live about 20 minutes from any dining experience. So until now when the excuses start flying the alternatives have been tuna sandwiches or canned soup. Not now though!

I ordered 6 different meals from Entree Vous for my party. In no particular order, they were:

  • Chicken Wellington
  • Beef and Gorgonzola Roulade
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Chicken Puttanesca
  • Parmesan and Sage Pork Chops
  • Beef Burgundy

In the span of one quick hour I had all the meals assembled and packaged for freezing and later preparation at home. While there, Mark and Chantal plied us with tasty appetizers of selections that are orderable - French Onion Salisbury Steak and Buffalo Chicken. I do have to admit I brought a bottle of wine to ease the end of the work day as well.

The Salisbury Steak was amazing. Mark prepared it in little bitty meatball size patties and served it with blue cheese on top of crostini. Superb! The Buffalo Chicken was also quite tasty. I could see this for a Super Bowl (oops can I say that without infringing on some copyright?) Party in the future with a big keg of beer.

When I got home my hubby had baked the last two Wellingtons from my last purchase. After a quick steam of some green beans and another glass of wine, dinner was served. Tasty goodness all the way.

All in all, not bad for a Wednesday!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Giving Thanks

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday. It’s become a bit of a tradition for my in-laws as G. has always had to help keep the peace on holidays. This year even though G. is in a new exciting position we had our feasting a little later in the week. My mother in law, D., asked me to bring dessert this year. I happily complied.

Of course, we had pumpkin pie because thats what ya do ya know. I made the same pie I’ve been making for 14 years right out of Bon Appetit 1993. And, as I am every year, I was sooo frustrated by the given pie crust. I only make the bloody thing once a year and I never remember that the crust isn’t so fun to make. I solved the problem this year by handwriting in the margin “Use a different crust. This sux!” It’s certainly worth it for the filling though – pumpkin, sour cream, whipping cream. How can you resist?

I can’t leave dessert to just one pie though. We’ve a few picky pants in the family that don’t care to pumpkin pie so I turned to another fall wonder – apple cranberry crisp. The flavors blend so well together with the fruit, brown sugar, and oats. I’ve taken a bit of an adult turn on this recipe because I love my liquor cabinet (and I didn’t have any apple juice hanging around).

Apple Cranberry Crisp adapted from Bon Appetit 2001

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces


1 12-ounce packages cranberries
1 1/4 pounds apples (about 3 medium), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups sugar - I use Jonagold, Granny Smith, Pink Lady
2 tablespoons apple juice or cider – or Cointreau it gives a flavor that brings out the tartness of the fruit

Vanilla ice cream

For topping:
Combine brown sugar, oats, flour, and salt in large bowl; toss to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture comes together in moist clumps. Cover; chill while preparing filling. (Topping can be prepared 1 day ahead; keep chilled.)

For filling:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine cranberries, apples, sugar, and apple juice in heavy large pot. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often. Boil until cranberries are tender and juices thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Transfer filling to prepared dish. Sprinkle topping over.

Bake crisp until filling bubbles thickly and topping is crisp and deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

I’m happy to say this was very well received, perhaps even more so than the pumpkin pie! The best thing was there were plenty of leftovers so I can eat it for breakfast.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Brrr... It's cold outside!

It’s 17°F outside this evening. I guess winter has finally hit Colorado. In my mind it’s about time too. Being a northerner by birth, warm weather around the holidays just doesn’t jive for me. Soooo… bring on the holiday cheer!

Sadly my husband does not agree with me. He was born and raised here so the warm fits him just fine. To help warm him up and show my love I whipped up a quick soup we fell in love with in Portland, Oregon.

While there, we took a little tour led by the Portland Walking Tours folks. This soup comes from the first stop on the tour, the Flying Elephant Deli. It’s a fresh but warm tomato soup with a bit of a twist. Fast to make up with ingredients from the pantry. You just can’t go wrong with this one.

Elephant's Tomato-Orange Soup

Portions: 4

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 - 14.5 oz. cans unsalted diced tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup whipping cream

1. In a saucepan, melt butter; add onion and saute until translucent.

2. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, baking soda, and thyme.

3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.

4. Puree in a food processor or blender; strain through a sieve or food mill.

5. Return to saucepan and stir in orange juice and cream. Bring to a simmer and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve hot.

I use Pomi tomatoes from Italy but any canned diced tomatoes will work. I didn’t have whipping cream this time out as it had been used up in the Thanksgiving Day feasting so I used half and half.

I’ve got to say, tomato soup does the body good. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hi and welcome to Eating In. I was inspired to start this blog by my friend and colleague, Wendy. We were talking food (I’m often caught doing that) and how to mix working fool full time, being a mom and wife, and eating good healthy food.

Her concern was that she was cooking a lot of boring stuff or worse processed foods for her family. She asked, “How do you cook something that has lots of flavor and is quick?!? I think I need a class or something.” To make matters worse, her hubby is a dedicated carnivore. Very few green things will pass his lips.

I talked about flavor combinations to mix things up and weekend prep to ease the weekday craziness. I talked about online sources and home cooking. I talked about what I feed my family. And then the bomb dropped … Wendy just wanted some good recipes and an idea of riffing off of the basics.

So here you are, dear … Good luck and good Eating In.

Mac and Cheese

Like Wendy’s husband, my child is a carnivore with a twist. Being a kid he also loves all things bread – French bread, pancakes, pasta. You name it, if it’s a grain he’ll probably eat it. So looking to make a quick dinner he’ll eat and the rest of the family will love usually centers around a bread product. In that vein, what’s better than Mac and Cheese? Not Kraft™ but good ol’ homemade mac and cheese …

Macaroni and Cheese with Prosciutto Bon Appétit | March 2001

Makes 6 servings.


8 ounces small elbow macaroni (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups (packed) grated Gruyère cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Butter 11x7-inch glass baking dish. Cook macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain well.

Whisk 1/2 cup Gruyère, cream, milk, prosciutto, Parmesan and nutmeg in large bowl to blend. Add macaroni and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup Gruyère over. Bake until cheese melts and macaroni and cheese sets, about 20 minutes. Serve warm

Inspired by the above recipe I started the process on a weekend to make weekday meal prep a lot quicker. I wanted to use ingredients I had on hand as well so I subbed bacon (mmmm bacon!) for prosciutto. The bacon was panfried up and stored for use later. I had some other cheeses on hand 'cuz we are a cheesy family! A little Tillamook Chedder, some young Gouda, and, of course, the Gruyere were added to the mix by shredding and storing as well.

I thought the recipe need a little more flavor than just dairy and nutmeg. On the night of prep I chopped a small onion very finely. I wanted a little zip and crunch to go with the bacon and cheese. A couple of pinches from the Herbes de Provence pot, some salt and pepper and we were good to go.

So dinner was served - a bunch of peas and a crispy mixed salad on the side to go with our Mac and Cheese tastiness. All in all, a pretty decent meal (although it will earn you a trip to the gym).

The next time I do this recipe I might add a couple of tablespoons of pub mustard, some fennel seeds and Italian sausage rather than the bacon. I’d also like to put a crunchy crumbled bread and cheese topping on. You can always do new and interesting things to a basic recipe. That's the joy of cooking and eating in!