Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tamale Pot Pie

I tend to think of pot pie as something to eat on a cold winter evening. Tasty crust, delicious of those dishes that warms you from the inside out. However, my plans for the perfect pot pie evening were somewhat dashed because it was absolutely *beautiful* and mild out today. Oh well, my pot pie desires were not dissuaded!

I had seen a cookbook while waiting on line for cold cuts at Wegmans one day, called, surprisingly enough, Potpies, which contains some pretty cool takes on pot pie. I've made the individual shrimp scampi potpie before, which was replete with lemony, garlicy, shrimpy goodness, topped with a panko crust. Tonight, tamale potpie. We were not disappointed.

Tamale Pot Pie
from Potpies, by Elinor Klimans

1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb lean ground pork
1/2 tsp cumin
3 tbsp chili powder (this is not bland cuisine)
1/4 tsp salt
a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes in juice

1 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt (although Steph and I both added salt to the top after cooking. maybe a smidge more would do)
3/4 reduced sodium chicken broth
1 large egg
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat to 375. Have ready a 9x2 round baking/pie dish.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium and cook the onions, pepper and garlic until softened, about 10 minutes. Add ground pork and cook until most of the pink color is gone. Stir in cumin, chili powder and salt. Add tomatoes & juice, using a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes into small bite-size pieces. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Spoon the filling into the baking/pie dish and let cool 15 minutes.

After topping is cooled, mix cornmeal and salt together in a bowl, and the broth, egg and oil in another bowl. Add wet to dry and stir until evenly moistened (sorry Laura!) and batter is thin and pourable. Pour topping over the filling on the baking dish, spreading evenly. Bake until topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbly, 35 minutes. Cut with a sharp knife and serve with sour cream and cilantro.

Easy and DELICIOUS. Try it and let me know what you think.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nicholas must be employing precogs.

I had broached the topic of where Steph wanted to go for her birthday dinner coming up, and I had floated the idea of hitting up Nicholas again, seeing that we loved the first meal we had there and it's obviously a different season, meaning a different menu. She said she wanted to think it over, and rightfully so, as there are more than enough restaurants we have not dined at and would still like to.

However, Nicholas must have hired precogs or oracles or some way of seeing the future, as today she received a birthday card from the restaurant. Talk about a sign. Needless to say, I'm about to call in 5 minutes and make reservations.

The menu may very well change between now and then, but you should check it out. Well worth the $, if you ask me. Oh, we'll be getting the tasting menu with wine pairings. Can't wait.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mom's Adventures in Gum Paste

So anyone who knows me has heard tales of my mother's talent in the kitchen. Anyone who's been lucky enough to enjoy some of her baking...well, it's beyond compare. She started with buttercream, she moved onto fondant, and now she's broken through to a whole new level by teaching herself how to make gum paste flowers.

More pictures after the jump. Check them out and be duly impressed.

That's right, be impressed.

Top Chef + Weeknight Dinner

In Top Chef news, I really enjoyed Emeril as a judge. I know he was one of the first 'celebrity chefs' and he seems to have his fingers in many pies (TV, houseware line, magazine articles, etc.) but I can definitely say that the tasting menu at the New Orleans Fish House in Las Vegas was one of the finest meals I've ever eaten. He knows how to run a restaurant and make his customers happy, and I've only heard great things about his other places.

As for the actual challenge, I personally think that KitchenKen should've gotten the win, if only for the cocktail. Both his and CrazyCarla's dishes were spot-on, but I think he should've gotten the nod because his cocktail was more complex and matched better than Carla's (then again, I'm judging this by what I see, not what the judges taste). However, I'm a bit iffy about this season - I feel that the producers have more of a say, as BorkBorkBork is still around, giving the audience a villain to root for in the finale (based on last night's challenge, it should be KitchenKen, CrazyCarla and the Prophet in the final).

Prediction: CrazyCarla completes the Cindarella story and takes out the baldies. Put it on the board.

Life has been busier than most, with just less than 3 months to the end of graduate school. It's kept me busy, and my cooking hasn't been super-interesting. After the jump you'll find an easy recipe for prosciutto-sage chicken breasts with sauteed spinach. Even you could make this one, Eric.

Chicken with Prosciutto and Sage (serves 4)
1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 sage leaves, whole
4 chicken cutlets
4 thin slices prosciutto
4 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp cold butter

4 sage leaves, minced

Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.
Place a sage leaf on each chicken cutlet.
Wrap a prosciutto slice around each cutlet, covering the sage.
Dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour, shaking off excess.
Heat 2 tsp oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook 2 cutlets until cooked through and golden brown, 3 minutes per side. Put in a warm oven (lowest possible temp) to keep warm.
Repeat with remaining oil and cutlets.
Add wine and broth, reduce to 1/4 original volume over high heat . Remove from heat, cool for 1 minute, then stir in cold butter and melted sage. Spoon sauce over cutlets on serving plates.

Sauteed Spinach with Raisins
1 tbsp oil
1.5 lb spinach leaves
1/4 cup raisins (I use regular, golden is more traditional)
salt and pepper

Warm oil in a skillet. Add 1/3 spinach, stir and wilt, then add another 1/3, stir and wilt, and add remaining spinach, stir and wilt, 3-4 minutes total. Remove from heat, stir in raisins, season with salt and pepper, and serve.


Thursday, February 12, 2009


If you want to see some awesome blogging, WAY better than anything I could ever write, then you need to check out the incomparable Meghann blogging about one of my favorite foods at In Pursuit of Pizza, an ode to all things cheesy and crusty and saucy and delicious.

As far as Top Chef goes, I stopped blogging about this season because I honestly felt that these chefs are nowhere near as talented as the past 2 seasons. I haven't been impressed, and I haven't necessarily agreed with the judges decisions. Homewrecker (aka Leah) should've been gone LONG before last night's episode. However, she is lucky that the producers have a say in this, because BorkBorkBork should have been the one packing his knives last night. A slightly undercooked egg is one thing, because its a personal taste as to how one likes their eggs. A slightly undercooked egg can be frowned upon but forgiven, but overcooking salmon? For everyone? After being so cavalier about how awesome you are at cooking fish? Toast.

Whatever, now we have the good guys of SuperFabioBros (super props for gutting through with a broken finger), CrazyCarla (who has really emerged as the dark horse candidate, and I'm rooting for her) and the Prophet (who started off the season alright, but hasn't been doing anything amazing) against the evil BorkBorkBork for the title. Truth be told, I think the Swedish Chef gets it, because he's been cooking circles around everyone else (save last night).