Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Little Comfort

Food for me is always more enjoyable when it has a touch of whimsy to it. A meal that brings a smile to your face, or evokes a warm memory always seems to taste better. I still find it amazing that a seemingly simple food can make you so happy. Recently, my obsession in this genre has been poached eggs. Something about softly poached eggs evokes the feeling of lazy Sundays and brunches with friends, a feeling that is always more than welcome. My husband and I made poached eggs yesterday, and he has certainly jumped on the bandwagon. He had only ever really had poached eggs while out in restaurants and was amazed at the difference it makes when they are done at home. The velvety texture of the yolk begs for toast points, and if done well, I think hollandaise or any other sauce is really unnecessary (not that I don't love hollandaise!). I guess this would be considered more of a technique discussion rather than a recipe, as it's a pretty standard procedure to poach an egg, but it's still worth noting. I usually have about 3-4 inches of water in a shallow sauce pan with a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (I like the flavor it adds to the final egg, in addition to helping the egg remain "together"). Bring this to a boil and turn down heat so the water is just at a simmer. Crack you eggs (the fresher the better!) into a small ramekin or teacup and slide into the water bath one at a time. For me, I usually cook my eggs for about 4 minutes each, as this insures that your whites are set, and the yolk will take on a lovely creamy texture. Remove with a slotted spoon, and enjoy with your favorite additions. Personally I'm a fan of the aforementioned toast points, sauteed asparagus or spinach or as pictured above with a pea, cauliflower and parmesan mash. Poached eggs- they're not just for Benedict anymore!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dinner for a Comfortable One

As mentioned in my previous post, my husband spends a fair amount of time out to sea for his job (and occasionally "finds" some wonderful fresh fish filets all cleaned and ready to go on the dock. Strange, I know). As a result, I have gotten very good (and very comfortable) with cooking for myself. A lot of times, I'll make a large portion of something and eat off of it for a while, as with the Curried Vegetable Soup. Other times, I just really want to treat myself, which is exactly what I did last Friday. For the first time in the three months since moving to Newport, I had job interviews during the day. That's right multiple people were interested in employing me. Ok, so maybe it was only two, but it's better than a kick in the teeth. After a week of working on my fitness, eating well and preparing for said interviews, I wanted deliciousness. I wanted RED MEAT and CHEESE and WINE. And that's exactly what I had. And I could not have been happier with the end result, and even had the self restraint to not take down the whole steak in one sitting. The great part about this beautifully simple meal is that it can be completely adjusted for as many portions as you need, whether it be one or ten. Although, I have to admit, there's something really satisfying about treating just yourself to one really beautiful meal that suits just your personal taste, and not being embarrassed to eat it in your sweatpants. Go ahead- no one's there to judge you...

Perfect Steak with Pommes Anna and Sauteed Spinach with Crispy Shallots

* A quick note about Pommes Anna: This is probably my favorite application of potatoes to date for it's beautiful simplicity. It's amazing that four unassuming ingredients can come together and make something so unbelievable, it takes every ounce of restraint I have not to eat the whole pan! I'm not even going to try to lie: I made these on Friday night, and Sunday night I made a second batch. No. Shame. One of life's great pleasures is pulling apart these lovely crispy potato layers and savoring at your leisure!

For the ingredients:
-2-3 Small red potatoes, washed and cleaned
-3 Tablespoons of salted butter
-3 Tablespoons white truffle oil
-1-2 Teaspoons ground thyme

Heat butter, truffle oil and ground thyme in a small cast iron skillet over low heat until blended together, and pour into a small bowl. Don't worry about any left in bottom of skillet, it'll be the base layer of flavor for the potatoes. Carefully slice potatoes into very thin rounds (think thick cut potato chip slices). In bottom of the skillet, layer potato slices in a concentric circle, and fill in middle with any small slices. Using a pastry brush, generously brush each layer with truffle-butter mixture. Season layer with good sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Repeat with rest of potato slices, and season top layer with salt & pepper. Make a round out of tin foil, place on top of potatoes and press down firmly. Weigh down top with large heavy can or dish of similar size. Set aside for 30 or so minutes. The starch in the potatoes will seep into the layers and form a cake. These steps can all be done ahead of time if prepping other elements of meal. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove weight and cook on upper-middle rack for 20 minutes with foil cover. Boost temp to 450 and bake for an additional 20 minutes uncovered. To finish potatoes, broil under med-high setting watching carefully for perfect browning and crispy texture. If you're feeling extra decadent, sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan before broiling for an outstanding crust.

Sauteed Spinach with Crispy Shallots

-3 Tablespoons good olive oil
-2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar
-1 Tablespoon lemon zest
-Fresh white pepper
-1 Shallot, finely minced
-1 Bag fresh spinach, washed and dried

Heat oil in a deep skillet or wok over medium high heat. Saute minced shallots in oil, making sure to keep shallots moving, and keep a close eye on their browning. Shallots are done when they reach a lovely golden brown and have a nice crunch (shallots can go from amazing to toast quickly, so stay on them!). Remove shallots with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. Turn down heat a bit, and begin to introduce (hi there) spinach into oil, moving quickly. Once spinach begins to wilt, add in champagne vinegar and white pepper and mix well. Just before serving, zest lemon over spinach, toss in crispy shallots and serve immediately.

Perfect Steak
There is no way that I could claim to have a perfect steak recipe, as there are so many factors to making a perfect steak, the most important of which is the chef's personal taste. With that in mind, I will share what I think to be a beautiful and simple steak recipe. I prefer a cut with with a lot of flavor and depth, which is why my go to for marbling and juicy finish is the rib eye. Season the steak with salt and pepper on both side and put aside to rest and let come up to room temperature. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a good skillet (cast iron is always a fan favorite in my house) until well melted over medium high heat, and a bit of smoke is produced. Sear tempered steak in hot pan for four or so minutes on each side (or whatever time for your desired level of doneness) basting exposed side with melted butter. Flip and repeat on other side. Steak can be served as is, or if you're really looking to knock it out of the park, top steak with large chunks of Gorgonzola, and melt to a bubbling crust under your broiler, which can conveniently coincide with the final step of Pommes Anna. Pull steak out of oven, plate and rest for a few minutes, pour a glass of wine, pair the steak up with the Pommes Anna and spinach and enjoy a lovely private meal.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Curried Vegetable Soup

Winter time is a perfect time for a big, delicious pot of soul-comforting soup. It not only makes your whole place smell incredible (especially to husbands and loved ones coming through the door after a long day at work), but is so simple, and a great way to use up a lot of ingredients that may be getting a little long in the tooth. There's a long standing family joke about my grandfather's recipe for soup referred to only as "Old Delicious", based loosely on beef barley with a staunch "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it came to the actual ingredients. Grampie was a magician when it came to stretching his ingredients to feed his eleven (yes, you read that correctly) children, and it's a trait that has been passed down through the generations. This frugality is a personal point of pride for me, and I love being able to make excellent food out of seemingly simple and inexpensive ingredients. This recipe for Curried Vegetable Soup is extremely versatile and is a lot of fun to play with until you get the perfect combination of ingredients to suit your palate.

Curried Vegetable Soup

-2lbs. Assorted vegetables (such as onion, celery, garlic, carrot, eggplant, mushroom or whatever else you have hanging around, sweet potatoes are also a great addition!) chopped into uniform 2" pieces.
-Olive oil
-Cracked pepper
-Curry powder
-Vegetable stock or water (stock will add more rich flavor)
-Hot sauce (optional)
-1 1/2 Cups grilled chicken, cubed or grilled shrimp (optional)
-Toppings: Greek yogurt, toasted pine nuts, chopped cilantro, roasted red pepper strips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss veggies in enough olive oil to coat (if using eggplant, use more, as it will absorb a lot!), and a generous amount of salt, pepper and curry powder. Personally, I toss ingredients together in a large heavy duty dutch oven, which cuts down on the amount of dishes used, as the dutch oven can be transported directly from the oven to the stove top. Roast veggies for 20-25 minutes in the oven, until flavors begin to meld, but veggies don't burn. Pull out of oven and transfer to stove top over medium heat. Add in stock or water to cover all veggies and bring to a low boil. Use a good sized wooden spoon to scrape off any "drippings" from the bottom of the pot- there's a TON of flavor in 'em! Adjust seasoning as needed, adding more curry, s & p or hot sauce, depending on your preference. At this point, I usually use an immersion blender to create a beautifully velvety texture, but if you prefer it chunky, leave it as is. A great aspect of blending the soup is that it creates a deceptively rich texture, and you can fool yourself into thinking it has some sort of cream base when it doesn't, sneaky! If using chicken, add in after blending. Allow the soup to sit and come together as long as possible (or as long as you can stand it!) to really get the most out of the final flavor. Top with Greek yogurt, roasted red pepper strips, toasted pine nuts, cilantro, extra curry or whatever suits your taste. Relax with a big ol' bowl, and watch the snow drift by.

This is also a great soup for freezing- since my husband is out to sea a fair amount, I usually make large freezer friendly dishes to portion out and freeze for later. I throw a good size portion of cooled soup into a freezer friendly zip bag, squeeze out the air and freeze. In the bags, they're easy to pull out as needed, are less likely to fall victim to freezer burn and take up less space than regular plastic containers.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Foodie Memories- Winter Pasta Party

As mentioned before, one of my favorite things about a great meal with friends or family (and always a combination of both!) are the memories created about the experience. As part of this little food & cooking blog, I wanted to start recording some of those memories as well so that they don't slip away.
A more recent one happened a few years ago when my husband (fiance at the time), brother and I lived together in the Eastport section of Annapolis. After attending a friend's birthday party in Baltimore, and a very interesting journey back to another friend's for a place to crash, I felt the need to throw a small dinner party with a little less of a debacle theme to it. The next weekend we invited over some close friends and I set to making a HUGE (I think we ate off of it long after the time that most people in their right minds would have tossed it out!) pot of Fruitti di Mare, and a comperably large batch of spiced wine, as it was sometime in late winter. Friends rolled in, wine was poured and snacks were eaten. I remember looking out into the living room to see my brother and his girlfriend rifiling through music selections, my husband teaching my friends Ted and Gil how to play cribbage, and my dear freind (and fellow foodie for the past 8 years) Mona dutifully grabbing us a plate of cheese and treats to enjoy while we put the finishing touches on the meal- and I remember thinking that although we're all a bunch of mid-(ok, mid to late) twenty somethings with not a lot of reserve, we still new how to throw a damn good party.
The dinner ended up (not to the surprise of any of the attendees) going into the late hours of the evening, where stories circled around the table, and every so often we would all errupt into a chorus of laughter at the story teller's punch line. By the end of the night, I was holding my stomach not just from overendulging, but from laughing so hard it hurt. In between the satirical retelling of our lives, other topics came up for discussion, from current events to food to greatest albums, and we were determined to leave no stone unturned. When the last glass of wine had been drank, the last cannoli split (thanks Mona & Ted!), the last tear of laughter wiped away and the last guest had left, I remember looking around our now festively dishevled townhouse and thinking, life is good.
The next morning, however, I'm pretty sure I may have recanted the sentiment. After a couple of hours in a dark room with lots of hydration and an ample supply of ibuprofin I was able to fix myself and return to my original notion- and in the end it was worth all the hurt that morning.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Ok, so for these first couple of posts I've been focusing on some rich & tasty stuff, and since we are entering a new year, and I will be finding myself in a bathing suit at the end of the month (ah, come on!), I thought I'd toss in a recipe for something that does not involve cheese (sigh), cream (grumble) or any other of my favorite bad foods. In all honesty, I actually really love this salad, and eat it a lot for something quick and filling that won't destroy all those hours of sweatin' to the oldies. It was actually inspired by an awesome edamame salad that my hometown grocery store makes, but with a couple of tweaks. It's great as is, over a green salad, as a dip for tortilla chips or pretty much an other application you can think of.

Edamame Salad

-1 Package of shelled edamame (be careful to get the type with no additives, some companies will add funky stuff to maintain freshness which can really effect the taste!)
- 2/3 Cup of cooled corn roasted w/ cumin, olive oil, salt & pepper (roast @ 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, stirring & checking often)
-4 Cloves of spicy marinated garlic cloves, minced*
- 2-3 of the hot peppers from marinated garlic, minced (adjust the spicy to your liking)*
-1/2 Cup of black beans (rinsed & drained if canned)
-Juice of 1/2 a lime
-Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a shallow bowl and mix thoroughly (if you're having a bad day, toss 'em all in a re-sealable container, slap on the top, and shake the hell out of it. You'll feel better, trust me.). The salad will get better the more you allow the flavors to come together, so I would recommend letting it sit over night in the fridge. If you want to impress your friends, inform them that this dish is also vegan friendly. Cause you're so progressive.

*Hot pepper marinated garlic is pretty widely available off of those fancy olive bar/carts in most grocery stores. A word to the wise, it's got a fairly high level of spice, so exert caution if this is your maiden voyage into using marinated garlic & peppers. If you're feeling extra spicy, toss in some of the curing oil for some extra flavor kick. If you a bit of a Nancy, skip the garlic & pepper and sub in a little chopped red onion. Don't forget to pull down your skirt. :-)

Indoor Grill + Blue Cheese Fondue= LOVE.

Cheese and I have been BFFs for years now, at least since the Reagan administration. Any time that I can find a new way to shamlessly hork down mass
amounts, I am a happy girl. When Kyle and I got married, we graduated from mis-matched dish set (most of which were either lifted from a college dining room or a parent's cabinet) to an actual matching set, and all sorts of fun toys to boot! Within those new toys there was a fondue set and an indoor grill. The fondue brought forth visions of us with our friends during apres ski weekends in L.L. Bean sweaters nestled around a fire place (yes, think Dumb & Dumber) dipping into hot bubbly cheese. The indoor grill became a staple of our lives, especially during that first winter in Annapolis and now that we are living in a third floor walkup. When these two seemingly independent culinary tools come together like Voltron, the result is epic. Thus is present for your viewing (and consuming!) pleasure: Blue Cheese Fondue with Grilled Vegetables & Skirt Steak.

Blue Cheese Fondue
(I usually make this first, as it can hang out on a back burner set on low until the steak & veggies are ready)

-1/2 lb. of your favorite blue cheese, crumbled- Gorgonzola, Camzola and Danish Blue all work well
-1 Clove of garlic, minced
-1 Sprig of thyme, leaves removed and chopped
-1/4 Stick of salted butter
-2 Cups half & half, or if you're feeling extra indulgent use heavy cream, and don't tell your trainer!
-Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
-Chopped fresh chives (optional)

Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add in garlic and thyme leaves and cook until garlic begins to soften. Add in half & half (or what ever other deliciously evil dairy you have decided to use) and bring to a simmer, making sure not to scald. Once mixture has slightly reduced, add in cheese and stir until mixture is smooth. Add black pepper to taste. At this point the sauce can hang out until you're ready to use it on the back burner (actually a little time to come together isn't a bad thing!). When ready to serve, transfer to fondue pot (if using) and top with chopped chives.

Simple Marinated Skirt Steak & Vegetables

-1 1/2lb Skirt Steak
-4 cloves garlic minced
-Olive oil
-Fresh cracked black pepper
-Good coarse salt (I'm a big fan of French grey sea salt)
-Mixed vegetables: I used asparagus spears, red onions (sliced into 1/6ths with root portion intact for easy grilling), cherry tomatoes, and sliced prortobella mushroom caps
-1 Loaf of french bread sliced and toasted

For the steak: Coat steak in olive oil, salt, pepper and 2 cloves of minced garlic in a glass dish and set aside on countertop (steak should come to room temp before grilling for best results). Let marinate for 20-30 mins, turning occasionally.

For Veggies: Use same preparation for veggies as used for steak- you can either toss all the veggies together in one big happy bowl, or separate them out, depending on how ambitious you want your clean up to be.

Preheat your grill (indoor or outdoor) and wipe down w/ a little olive oil to prevent sticking. I prefer to cook my steak first as it will need time to rest. Cook steak according to your desired temperature, which for me means barely driving it over the heat. Rest meat on a cutting board with a light tin foil cover. Give grill another quick rub down with olive oil to prep for veggies. If your grill can't handle all veggies at once, start with the onions, then follow with mushrooms, tomatoes and asparagus. Onions & mushrooms can take a little more time on the grill w/o completely losing their shape, but make sure to keep an eye on the asparagus as it can burn and lose it's snap pretty
easily if over cooked.

To serve: Arrange veggies on a tray with sliced bread. Slice steak on the bias to get he most tender slices and arrange on another platter. Pour fondue into a pre-warmed fondue pot and place in the middle of a table. Offer up fondue picks, small plates and big glasses of hearty red wine to those partaking a toast to the good life. Cheers!


I love love love LOVE oysters. Seriously. Like a lot (keep your aphrodisiac comments to yourself, thank you), and in any presentation. The restaurant I worked in for years used to offer them in what I consider the Holy Trinity: raw on the half, Rockefeller and a simple Po'Boy. Yum. Most of the time, I prefer mine raw on the half, as I think it's the best way to showcase their natural flavor. I've been lucky enough to have had oysters all over the Northern Hemisphere, and I am pretty confident that I will still contest my all time favorites to be from Glidden Point Oyster Sea Farm in Edgecomb, Maine ( They're briny, rich, and succulent to a point of perfection. As a bonus, you can drive right over to the farm itself and pick your own oysters out of their small retail shack and talk directly to the farmers. Being someone who loves to support the local farmers and purveyors, I don't think it gets any better! With that in mind, I wanted to get out a couple of my favorite sauces for oysters on the half as well as what I consider to be a perfect oyster stew (and honestly, does anyone else's opinion really matter? Certainly not on here!). Cheers!

Shallot- Rice Wine Mignonette

-2 Shallots, minced uniformly
-3/4 Cup good quality rice wine
-Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
-Ground white pepper, to taste
-Pinch of sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small dish, cover tightly and place in fridge to allow flavors to meld. Usually best if left overnight in fridge to let come to full flavor potential. Spoon over freshly shucked oysters. Shoot. Repeat until desired level of happiness is reached.

Creamy Dill Raw Bar Dip

-2-3 Tablespoons of fresh minced dill
-1 Small clove of garlic mashed (broken down w/ the back of a knife and a little salt to make a paste)
- 80z. sour cream or greek yogurt, depending on your preference
-Fresh cracked black pepper
-Sea salt
-Squeeze of lemon
-Dash of hot sauce

Follow same directions as for other sauce (both seem to develop a more robust flavors if left overnight!). These are insanely easy to make, and add a little more interest to a raw platter than the standard cocktail sauce. I like to serve 1/2 shells on a good sized chilled platter on either a bed of crushed ice (which can get messy) or rock salt. If you keep the rock salt in the freezer for a couple of hours before serving, it'll hold some of the cold, and not cause the meltdown that crushed ice will.

Simple Oyster Stew

-1 Pint shucked oysters in their liquor
-1 Large shallot, minced
-1/4 stick of butter
-3-4 Cans evaporated milk
-Hearty dash of sherry (2 tblspn or so)
-Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
-Salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in the bottom of a a large pot (I usually use my almighty dutch oven) over medium-ish heat. Add in minced shallots, cook until they being to turn opaque. Add in oysters with liquor and sherry and cook until the edges of the oysters just begin to curl. Add in evaporated milk (adjust amount depending on how "meaty" you want the stew to be), season with salt & pepper and heat through, but do not boil. Serve immediately topped with fresh chopped parsley, and congratulate yourself on an elegant stew.

*It is worth noting that this same base can be used to make an incredible lobster stew as well, just replace the oysters with picked lobster meat.

Frogmore Stew

For those of you that are fans of the 90's sketch show The State, no, this does not have anything to do with Froggy Jamboree in a kiddie pool (and for those of you that have no idea what I'm talking about, never mind). In any event, this is one of my favorite simple meals. It's easy (one pot!), it's relaxed, and there's not a whole lot of technical work to prep it. It is definitely the kind of supper made for flannel shirts, old jeans and flip flops, and usually a good amount of story telling and beer, two of my favorite activities during meal time. Throw on some good classic soul music, and you've got a perfect night!

This is very similar to a low country boil which is popular in South Carolina and Georgia, with some slight alterations. It's a great dish to serve for a casual dinner party- I line the table w/ newspaper, put out a big roll of paper towels, a bunch of seafood picks, shell bowls and lots of cold good beer. Especially awesome if it's a warm enough night to eat outside!

Frogmore Stew

-2lbs. any combination of shrimp, clams*, mussels*, haddock, crab claws, or any firm fish that is fresh
-1lb. spicy cased sausage such as andouille, chorizo or linguisa cut into 2" pieces
-1/2 to 3/4lbs. small red potatoes halved
-2-3 sweet onions, quartered
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-3-4 ears of corn, broken in half
-6-8oz. of decent beer (Newcastle, or Shipyard Export if you can get your hands on it!)
-Old Bay (lots, maybe 1/2 a cup or so? Adjust to your taste)
-Couple of shakes of hot sauce, to your taste
-Crusty loaf of french bread, toasted

Clean seafood accordingly (mussels/clams scrubbed and de-bearded and any with broken shells discarded, fish cut into 2" chunks, shrimp de-veined, etc.). In a large, wide pot lightly sautee garlic & sausage in a little olive oil (1 tbspn or so) until fat starts to render out of sausage and garlic is lightly colored. Add a large amount of water (enough to cover all ingredients once added, but not drown!), beer, hot sauce and Old Bay and bring to a boil. Toss in potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes. Add onion, cook another 10. Throw in corn and cook for 5 more minutes. Give the pot a stir and add in seafood, and keep a weather eye on it. If cooking a mixture of seafood, start with shellfish, add in whitefish and finish off with shrimp, with a few minutes in between each add in. When cooked clams & mussels will open naturally (discard any that do not open), fish will be opaque and shrimp will be curled and pink (about 6-12 minutes depending on what fish you use). Be careful not to overcook, otherwise seafood will turn rubbery. Serve family style out of the pot in the middle of the table with lots of bread for dipping.

-I also usually serve mine with a mustard-mayo dipping sauce with minced garlic & fresh parsley and lemon wedges, other great options are drawn butter or cocktail sauce.

*A note on selecting shellfish: When choosing fresh shellfish, have a chat w/ your fish monger to see what is fresh. Whenever possible, select those that are loose, not pre-bagged, as they are usually more fresh. To make sure that they are still alive and edible, tap the outside of the shell. If shellfish reacts & closes its shell, you're good to go.

Lobster-Tomato Risotto w/ Pan Seared Scallops & Crispy Pancetta Ribbons

This is one of my all time favorite recipes to cook for a small dinner party. There are a lot of easy alterations to this (I've made grilled marinated swordfish steaks in lieu of the scallops, if it's a busy night, I'll do orzo "risotto" instead of regular- recipe to follow soon!) and I'm a huge proponent of establishing a good relationship w/ your local fish monger to know what is fresh and best that day. It really is simple elegeance at it's best in my book. So, without further adieu:

Lobster-Tomato Risotto w/ Pan Seared Scallops & Crispy Pancetta Ribbons

1lb fresh scallops, picked for "foot" muscle & patted dry
1/4 lb picked lobster meat
3 ripe tomatoes (Backyard Beauties were awesome!)
3 portobella caps, wiped clean and sliced into bite sized pieces
1 medium shallot, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
Parmesan cheese
Heavy cream
Truffle oil
White wine
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
4 1/2 cups lobster stock (can sub chicken stock as well), HOT
8 rounds of pancetta, cut into thin strips

Heat a large skilled over medium heat with a small coating of truffle infused oil. Fry pancetta strips until crisp, remove & drain on paper towel. Season scallops well w/ salt & pepper and sear off in same pan used for pancetta w/ leftover oil and pancetta renderings (3 or so minutes on each side. Remove from pan & place in a low warm oven. In same pan, saute tomatoes & mushroom until soft, but not overcooked. Remove veggies from pan & keep warm. Add a bit more oil and saute shallots and garlic for 3-4 mins until transparent. Add in the rice and stir to coat w/ the oil & shallot mixture. Add a heavy splash of white wine (I used Sauv Blanc) and cook off for 2 or so mins. Begin adding hot stock to rice and stirring until absorbed, about 1/2 a cup or so at a time. Continue to add stock until risotto is fully cooked, about 20-25 mins. Add about 1/4-1/2 cup of heavy cream (or more, depending on how creamy you want it) to the rice and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese (I like to use a better quality cheese for a better consistency) and stir until fully combined. Add in the picked lobster meat, tomatoes and mushrooms over low heat and take off stove. Transfer risotto to a large shallow serving bowl and top with scallops. Sprinkle pancetta ribbons and chopped flat leaf parsley and serve w/ lemon wedges. I served the dish with a simple baby green, herb and thin sliced red onion salad dressed w/ balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and it worked beautifully!

The Time Has Come

...for me to finally start my attempt at a cooking blog! I know that everyone with a stand mixer and a copy of The Joy of Cooking or Mastering the Art of French Cooking has now decided that they are the next culinary star, but I figure what the hell- I'll throw my hat into the ring. That being said, I severely doubt that this will make me any more famous than I already am (it is already proving difficult to manage my full-time career as a local celebrity), but I am hoping that it will help me focus all of the recipes and tasty ideas that I have swimming around in my brain. It's worth noting now that I am not a huge exact recipe gal (except in the realm of baking, which in all honesty gives me the stink eye a little bit), so these are in no way perfect recipes, but more like culinary adventures. And if nothing else, I'll be able to get these all down into one place for my own references. And hey, if someone ends up actually reading this and making something delicious, even better! So welcome, come on in, pour a glass of wine (Malbec's on the counter, Sauv is in the fridge door) and pull up a seat at my makeshift island- here's what I have to offer you...