Monday, December 28, 2009



*Tap, tap.* Is this thing on?

I am now the proud owner of my very own copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Gastronomical bliss is forthcoming.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Year-End Bonus Recipe!

I love the holidays, for three reasons:
  • One--it's a season of spending time with family, and whether that's my brother and dad or Tim's spectacular parents and sister, I know I'm going to be laughing and full of love.
  • Two--it's a season of eating, and I love to eat! Tim's parents are excellent cooks, and I love to bake, so there's no shortage of delicious food to consume in the month of December round these parts.
  • And three--Tim's swimmers like to send him home from practice with treats. (See above bullet point about how I love to eat.)
Last week, or maybe this week, or maybe some other time, one of Tim's swimmers sent him home with an adorable little Christmas-y lunch box filled with miniature poppy seed muffins. Tim hates poppy seed muffins. I adore poppy seed muffins. I'm not a big muffin person in the first place (I hate blueberry, pumpkin, orange, banana, cranberry, and most other types of muffins, and I've only ever met two or three kinds I'll eat), but there's something about poppy seed that really makes my heart leap. At any rate, it had never occurred to me to attempt to make poppy seed muffins before, but after eating a full dozen mini muffins in one sitting and still wanting more, I figured I'd better find a recipe and hop to it!

So, without further ado, Poppy Seed Muffins, just in time for the new year!

One stick butter
Three-quarters of a cup of sugar
Two eggs
One and a half teaspoons almond extract
One and a half cups of flour*
One and one-eighth teaspoons of baking powder
Half a teaspoon of baking soda
One-quarter teaspoon of salt
Half a cup of buttermilk
Two and a half tablespoons of poppy seeds

* I suppose you could use any old all-purpose flour you like, but I used cake flour, which is specially formulated for soft, light, fluffy cakes. I figured it couldn't hurt my muffins, so I went for it.

Oh, and please forgive the bad photography. It's winter in the PNW, and my kitchen is very dark even in the middle of the day. Poor lighting is not my fault!

Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add in the almond extract.

One egg...

Two eggs!
Preheat your oven to 350F.

Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in two additions each, alternating dry-wet-dry-wet.
Dry addition #1...


Dry addition #2...

All done!
Fold in the poppy seeds.

Pour the batter into 12 prepared muffin tines --either line them with paper or thoroughly grease them.

Bake for 15-18 minutes till done. Use a toothpick to test like you would any cake. Mine took about 17 minutes.

Mmm...golden, light, moist, heavenly poppy seed muffins. Enjoy!

Makes 12 muffins.
Takes about 20 minutes, plus bake time.
Difficulty: 2

Friday, December 18, 2009

Stuffed Breasts!

OMG Yum.

This has been a week of surprising recipes. Monday's beef tenderloin was wayyyy easier and more delicious than I expected it to be. Tuesday's chicken noodle soup was surprisingly bad--the noodles were ridiculously starchy, and it ruined the whole thing. And these stuffed breasts were phenomenal. Enjoy!

You will need:
Chicken breasts
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Chicken broth
Parsley & Basil

Either buy thin-cut breast filets to begin with, or flatten your breasts as thin as you can between a couple sheets of wax paper. In a small bowl, combine a quarter cup of olive oil, two cloves of minced garlic, two tablespoons chopped parsley, one tablespoon chopped basil, and plenty of salt and pepper.

On each breast, lay one slice of proscuitto (it's an Italian ham (I think) that you can find at the deli counter) and a spoonful of the parsley mixture. Roll it all up tight and secure with a couple of toothpicks. I don't have toothpicks, so I chopped up a couple of bamboo skewers. I really must invest in toothpicks.

Place the chicken in a baking dish, seam down, and bake at 350F for 15 minutes.

(The chicken's in a baking dish, and not, in fact, just sitting on the burner. Don't despair!)

Blurry, dark oven action shot!

Warm up a cup of chicken broth in the microwave and use it to baste the chicken. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, basting often, until the chicken is done.

Spoon the juices over the top and enjoy!

Takes about 40 minutes, start to finish.
Serves as many as you need it to, just make more parsley filling for more than 4.
Difficulty: 2

So, this is probably the last recipe you'll see this month. With Christmas and New Year's coming up, I'm either not cooking much in a week or relying on old standbys for every day in the week. I had to scrap a couple complicated recipes I'd planned because I suddenly find myself employed! I don't know how long it'll last, but it seems like it'll be fairly steady for a couple months. I don't want to say too much about it because I don't want to jinx anything, but I think it's enough to know this: I'm finally back in a productive, positive environment where I love what I do and I love the people I'm working with and I'm putting my considerable skills to good use. I've had a phenomenal week and I'm really quite thrilled. Big ups to Brooklyn!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Beef Tenderloin

I now present to you, for the first time on this blog, "The Easiest, Quickest, Classiest, Yummiest Dinner Ever."

Here's what you're gonna do:

Preheat your broiler and adjust a rack to the top position.

Slap two beef tenderloins (or however many you need) on a baking sheet, or broiler pan if you have one.

Season with salt and pepper. (I used a seasoned salt blend, and it was delicious, but I usually use kosher salt for this kind of thing.)

Slap the whole thing in under the broiler, and use tongs to flip every two minutes for ten minutes.


This picture is overexposed as all get out, but I like that you can see the steam.

Here's a better picture. Still poorly lit, but it's winter, so give me a break.

I'd meant to have salad with this, but when I got to the store this morning, I realized I'd left my list at home, and forgot. So we had pineapple instead, which I did remember to buy.

Feeds as many as you need it to.
Takes ten minutes.
Easy as pie.