The Best Way to Wake Up

I wrote about how I earned my first tip by making this breakfast in my blog last week. What I did not say though, was that this breakfast actually came out of desperation — our car battery had been dead for a week, and of course grocery trips were suspended indefinitely.

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-Side-Up-top-view

 

 

Saturday morning, I woke up to an empty fridge. Well, not entirely empty. There was still a couple eggs left, and that was it. I turned to the freezer, and was so happy to dig out a package of thick-cut bacon and a bag of hash browns. Yay!

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-Side-potato-2

 

I was too hungry to defrost the bacon in the fridge (didn’t even have the patience to use the cold-water method). I popped the entire package in to the microwave and waited, impatiently, for a whole two minutes. As soon as the bacon is separable, I threw three slices in a pan over medium-high heat. Soon enough they started sizzling, and the kitchen was filled with a wonderful aroma. Hmm, who needs coffee to wake up?

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-egg

 

The beauty of cooking bacon in the morning is that you get a lot of tasty bacon fat to cook with, which was what I used to transform the frozen hash browns into a tasty side. Even better, crack an egg into bacon fat and your sunny-side-up will be just as good as it can get.

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-Side-Up-side-view

 

 

I could hardly wait to put everything on a plate and have a bite. Instant gratification! I learned something here: desperation can be the best inspiration sometimes, and that simple food can (and often does) taste great. Now I just wish a fairy would make this breakfast so I could wake up to it every single day!

 

 

 

 

 

Thick Cut Bacon, Parsley Hash Brown, and a Sunny-Side Up Egg

From: Danti Chen

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1 cup thinly sliced potato sticks (or frozen hash browns)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat up a pan on high, and fry up 3 slices of bacon. Reduce the heat to medium and cook on each side for about 7 minutes.
  2. Take about a table spoon of bacon fat, and put it in another pan on high heat. Throw in a cup of thinly sliced potato.
  3. Add the garlic powder and crushed pepper to the potato. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. Add the chopped parsley.
  4. In a separate pan, add about 1 teaspoon bacon fat, heat it up till sizzling.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and crack an extra large egg into the pan. Crack some pepper and add a pinch of salt on top. Cover, and turn off the heat. Let it sit while the potato and bacon finishes cooking, for about (15 & 14 minutes total). The egg should cook for no more than 6 minutes total with the heat off.

From the Fridge: Spanish Quesadillas

I grew up in a family where virtually nothing was wasted. My mother would save the tiniest sliver of Breyers ice cream that used to come in a square container, and sometimes, oh my God, we’d even take leftovers to amusement parks. I of course wanted those horrible hot dogs rolling around on those metal tubes all day. I often think how almost criminal it is that we have three refrigerators in our house that are so stuffed with food we can’t even see what’s growing in the back of each of them. Yes, I teach cooking classes so there’s always a lot of ingredients needed for classes and testing recipes, but it’s still no excuse for wasting precious food.

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

I decided that instead of dreading the monthly clean-out of moldy bits and pieces and the slimy gook from spilled jars, I should stage our own version of Chopped, where contestants are given a handful of secret ingredients and they have to come up with some brilliant dish. The difference of course is that I won’t try to make a four star dinner out of cheese doodles, octopus, gelatin and some sort of spiky fruit. I’m challenging myself to search the freezers and fridges each week for several ingredients and to figure out a dish in one hour. This kind of self imposed contest forces you to use a variety of skills – it could be searing, braising, frying or roasting, or whatever – in new ways and to really work the spices you have on hand.

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

Okay I admit, this first week I had a head start. I just finished doing a week of cooking demos on back to school healthy snacks and lunch options on Fox News (link to avocado video) and had great lime jalapeno guacamole left over. I had also had a huge package of 12 inch tortillas from making low fat baked tortilla chips on air. Quesadillas anyone? So I searched the fridge and found perfectly ripe yellow heirloom tomatoes, Iberico cheese and smoked prosciutto (similar enough to Iberico ham). Perfect ingredients to make a Spanish-ish Quesadilla. Here’s the recipe:

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

Apple-Cranberry Pie

Dear World,

 

Today I will tell you about pie, specifically, fruit pie. Even more specifically, I will tell you how to make apple-cranberry pie. This is a really, really good pie. Especially for Thanksgiving, which, incidentally, just happened…conveniently before I got around to posting this. I was going to say you could make this pie for Thanksgiving, and I guess you still can, you just have to wait a year. Anyways, here are some reasons to make this pie.

 

  1. The crust is flaky and buttery and guaranteed to take, like, 3 years off your life.
  2. The cranberries in the filling help cut the sweetness of the apples, providing a whole new level of flavorful complexity to what would otherwise just be a very, very good apple pie.
  3. The apples themselves are cooked in the microwave, and they are still delicious, and this will blow your mind when you eat the pie.
  4. The filling isn’t runny.

 

apple-cranberry-pie

 

OK, with that out of the way, here are some tips for making the recipe, adapted from the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook.

 

Crust:

So here’s the deal. This recipe is all about making the flakiest crust possible. While the original recipe insists that you need to use a food processor to make the crust, I think it’s good to do it by hand because you can get a more uneven distribution of butter in the dough which makes for a really flaky crust. Also, the original recipe uses both butter and shortening, but I just replace the shortening with more butter. This makes for better flavor, but does make the dough sort of unwieldy. As such, it is supremely important that you chill everything that goes into the crust. Seriously, even the flour (I would skip chilling the salt and sugar, just because there isn’t very much of either in the recipe.) Also, this recipe calls for vodka which evaporates out of the crust while it bakes and makes the crust, you guessed it, even flakier. The vodka is completely flavorless, and I think it really helps, but you can definitely just replace it with more ice water.

 

Filling:

This filling is basically a layer of cranberry filling at the bottom of the pie, topped with apple filling. I’ve had really good luck with this recipe. It tasted good and wasn’t runny or goopy. Overall, it’s just super solid (as a recipe, of course, not as a filling consistency. That would be icky.)

 

So that’s basically it. Hopefully the instructions are clear. Please comment if you have any questions, suggestions, thoughts, opinions, pictures of you eating the pie, etc. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Apple Cranberry Pie

From: Theresa Kaplan, adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

    For Crust:

    • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, chilled
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 20 tablespoons butter (5 sticks), frozen and cut into .25 inch pieces (alternatively, 12 tablespoons butter and 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, also frozen)
    • ¼ cup vodka, chilled
    • ¼ cup ice water

    For Filling:

    • 8 ounces (2 cups) cranberries, fresh or frozen
    • ¼ cup orange juice
    • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ cup water
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 3 ½ pounds Golden Delicious Apples
    • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

    Directions:

      For Crust:

      1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter.
      2. Incorporate the butter by picking up handfuls of the dough and rubbing it between your fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl. Do this until the butter is evenly distributed in small clumps and there is no more loose flour mixture.
      3. Sprinkle in vodka and ice water. Continue the above mixing process until the dough starts to come together. (You might not need all the liquid; you don’t want your dough to be any wetter than it needs to be to just stick together.)
      4. Gather the dough up and divide it into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten the dough into disks, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for an hour or more.

      For Filling:

      1. In a medium saucepan, boil the cranberries, orange juice, ½ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, mashing up berries a bit as you go, until the mixture forms a jam-like consistency, and a spoon dragged along the bottom of the pot leaves a line that doesn’t fill in immediately. This should be around 10-12 minutes.
      2. Remove from heat and stir in water. Let the mixture cool until room temperature, about 30 minutes (the filling can now be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
      3. While the cranberries are cooking and chilling, mix ½ cup sugar, the remaining ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt, and cornstarch in a large bowl.
      4. Peel, core, and cut the apples into ¼ inch slices. Add the apples to the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch mixture, and toss to coat.
      5. Cover and microwave the apples for 10-14 minutes until the apples begin to turn translucent and the liquid is thick and glossy. Be sure to stir the mixture every 3 or 4 minutes as it cooks. Cool the apple mixture to room temperature, about 30 minutes. At this point the apples can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

      Assembly:

      1. While the filling is cooling, preheat oven to 425˚. Be sure to place a baking sheet on a rack below the one you intend to cook the pie on to catch any dripping.
      2. Roll out the larger piece of dough into a 12 inch circle on a well floured surface. Loosely roll the dough over the rolling pin and then ease it into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover the crust loosely and chill for 30 minutes until the dough is firm.
      3. Roll out the smaller piece of dough into a 12 inch circle. Wrap it and chill it for 30 minutes until the dough is firm.
      4. Unwrap the dough and spread the cranberry mixture in the bottom of the pie. Cover it with the apples, mounding them in the middle. Roll the second disk of pie dough loosely over the rolling pin and ease it over the pie. Pinch together the edges of the crust and trim any excess from around the edge of the pie plate.
      5. Cut 4 2-inch slits in the top crust and brush it with the egg white. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the crust.
      6. Place pie in oven over the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until the crust is light brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚, and rotate the pie. Continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Let the pie cool for around 2 hours on a wire rack.
      7. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving 6

      Before Thanksgiving, we were all so geared for that first taste of the turkey, gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes. The second and third bites were pretty fabulous too and I for one was really looking forward to The Sandwich the next day. But by day three leftover turkey is a challenge and most of us just want to see it disappear. When my producer asked me to come up with a leftover cooking demo for the last day of the Thanksgiving TV extravaganza, I thought turkey puff pastry turnovers. It took a lot of trial and error  (do you add stuffing or not, I wondered) to come up with the perfect combination. These turnovers are both beautiful, easy, and practical because you can also freeze them and pop them in the oven when whenever you want. And they include bacon too so how could you go wrong? They were a huge hit with Mark and the girls, and the staff at WTIC went crazy over them too. We hope you like them as well!

       

      Question of the Day: What did you do with your leftovers from Thanksgiving?

       

      editedleftovers2 

       

      Turkey Cranberry Puff Pastry Turnovers

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 1 sheet puff pastry sheets defrosted
      • All purpose flour for rolling out the dough
      • 1 egg, whisked
      • 1 pound or more leftover turkey cut into 2 inch pieces
      • 8 or more tablespoons leftover gravy
      • 8 tablespoons homemade or canned whole berry cranberry sauce
      • 6 strips cooked crispy bacon, crumbled
      • 2 teaspoons finely chopped sage or rosemary (optional)
      • 1/3 cup or more crispy shallots* (see our recipe for butternut squash soup for recipe)

      Directions:

      1. Roll out one sheet of puff pastry out on a floured surface to 14X14 inches. Square off the edges of the dough using a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
      2. Cut both the length and width of the dough in half so there are 4 equal parts. You will have four 7 X 7 squares.
      3. Whisk 1 teaspoon water and 1 whole egg in a small bowl or ramekin and set aside.
      4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
      5. Carefully move the puff pastry squares on to a separate piece of parchment paper.
      6. Place two to three ounces of turkey and two tablespoons each of both gravy and cranberry sauce on each diagonal half of the square. Sprinkle evenly with bacon, shallots and ¼ teaspoon of herbs (optional) on each half of diagonal halves as well, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the square.
      7. Brush the entire border of each square with egg wash and fold over
      8. Use a fork to seal the edges and to assure the filling won’t leak out while the turnovers bake.
      9. Cut the parchment paper around each turnover leaving a 2-inch border. Carefully pick up each by the edges of the parchment paper and place them on the cookie sheet (they will be very fragile, and tend to lose their shape if you lift them with your hands on to the cookie sheet.)
      10. Carefully brush each turnover with egg wash.
      11. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
      12. Serve immediately with a green salad and roasted vegetables.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving 4

      pumpkinbacon

       

      This Pumpkin Fondue is one of our absolute favorite recipes of all time. We’ve posted this one before, but in light of the demo it on TV the other day, I decided to bring it back from the archives. It’s too important to miss! If your Thanksgiving menu is still flexible, we highly encourage you to check this one out! Scroll down for the recipe and a video of the TV segment!

       

      pumpkinwithmilk

      pumpkinfondue cinderellapumpkin

       

       

       

      Pumpkins Stuffed with Everything Good – Our Way

      From: Heide Lang, Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

      Ingredients:

      • 8 strips bacon (¼ cup shallots may be substituted for vegetarian version
      • ¼ pound stale bread cut into cubes
      • ¼ pound cheese, such as gruyere, emmental, cheddar, smoked gouda, asiago, parmesan, or any combination, cut into ½ inch cubes 
      • 3 cloves of garlic pressed or minced 
      • 1/8-1/4 cup fresh chives or scallions 
      • 2 teaspoons or more fresh herbs (i.e., parsley, rosemary, thyme) 
      • ½ cup dried cranberries (optional)
      • 1 sugar or Cinderella pumpkin weighing about 3 pounds 
      • 1 cup or more heavy cream 

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      2. Sautee shallots until they are crispy (about 15 minutes), or fry bacon until crispy. Set aside.
      3. Combine chunks of bread and cheese, along with dried cranberries (this is optional, but will add beautiful color to the fondue). Season with salt and pepper. 
      4. Add bacon or shallots to the bread and cheese mixture. Combine well.
      5. Add any herbs you choose, along with the chives or scallions, and garlic. Toss well.
      6. Using a very sturdy knife, cut off the cap of the pumpkin, just as you would a jack-o-lantern.
      7. Scoop out the stringy pumpkin and the seeds and generously salt the inside of the pumpkin.
      8. Pack the filling tightly into the pumpkin (there shouldn’t be any air pockets).
      9. Pour in cream until the bread mixture is saturated and there is a bit of liquid on top (but be careful not to have the bread “swimming” in heavy cream).
      10. Put the cap back on and bake until the pumpkin is soft, about 60-90 minutes. Check the pumpkin after 45 minutes to see how soft it is. Continue baking until the ingredients are bubbling and the meat of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Do not let it burn, or the pumpkin will turn black and collapse as it cools. You don’t want all your good work ruined!
      11. Place a large spatula under your creation and move it gently to a beautiful platter.
      12. Serve as a side dish or an appetizer on small plates.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving 3

      Tim Lammers, a delightful anchorman at Fox News in Hartford, was very skeptical when I told him we were making mashed potatoes with turnips for the show last week. Turnips, as vegetables go, are not very pretty in their raw form, and many people put in them in the same category as Brussels sprouts (which we will be making later in the week as well!) He was surprised and delighted at just how delicious the potatoes tasted. As a bonus, we also prepared a roasted pear puree, which adds a lovely sweetness to mashed potatoes and cut the richness of the Thanksgiving meal. Here are all the recipes we made.

       

       

      FINALPotatoes

       

       

      Question of the day: What are your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes?

       

       

      Mashed Potatoes and Turnips with Roasted Pear Puree

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 1/8 cup honey
      • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
      • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
      • 4 ripe bosc pears, peeled, quartered, cored
      • 1 basic mashed potato recipe (see below)
      • 1 pound turnips peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      2. Combine honey, lemon juice, melted butter and pears in medium size bowl. Toss to coat evenly.
      3. Season with salt and pepper and place pear mixture in a baking dish so that all the fruit is in one layer.
      4. Roast pears for 30 minutes and then toss the pears in the juices.
      5. Continue roasting for about 30 minutes until the pears are very tender (this will vary depending on how ripe the pears are).
      6. Transfer pears with liquid to a food processor and puree until smooth or puree directly in the dish with an immersion blender. Set aside. (Pear puree can actually be made up to 2 days ahead).
      7. In the meantime, prepare basic mashed potato recipe. (See next recipe)
      8. Place turnips in a separate pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain.
      9. Puree turnips until smooth and combine with mashed potatoes.
      10. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
      11. Re-warm pear puree and serve together by placing the potato mixture in a serving bowl and swirling in the pear puree. Alternatively, serve separately, and let your guests determine how much puree they would like.

      Basic Mashed Potatoes

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 4 pounds russet potatoes peeled 
      • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
      • 1 teaspoon or more of salt
      • 1 cup whole milk
      • ½ cup heavy cream
      • 1 teaspoon pepper

      Directions:

      1. Cut the potatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on their size. You want to make sure the potatoes are the same size so they cook evenly.
      2. Place the potatoes in cold water, bring to a boil, and then salt the water (the water should taste like the ocean in order for the potatoes to be properly seasoned). (Water should always be salted once the water is boiling. Otherwise, the salt will sink to the bottom and stick to the bottom of the pot.) Lower the temperature to a simmer and cook until a fork easily goes through the potatoes, about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.
      3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and “dry mash” without the milk or butter for 2 minutes over a low flame.
      4. Add the butter and gently mix into the potatoes without mashing (you don’t want to over mash the potatoes or they will be gluey).
      5. Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan and warm milk.
      6. Gradually add warm milk and cream to the pot and mix thoroughly.
      7. Add pepper and additional salt to taste. Mash potatoes until smooth or coarse, your preference.

      Easy Ghoulish Treats

      Most people think I’m a little bit strange when I tell people that Halloween is my favorite holiday. It’s really simple. I adore the foods of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Easter, not to mention all the glorious casual picnic foods from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but I just love the theatre and whimsy of Halloween.

       

      Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

       

      This great holiday, after all, is not about gifts or how perfect the table looks for relatives. It’s about fun, and magic, and theatre. It transcends age. We will have 8-year-olds and 16-year-olds side by side at our house all enjoying the same silly food and wearing goofy costumes. What could be better? I get to take my apron off and think solely about what would make kids of all ages happy. The pressure is off to be perfect. All anyone cares about is that the offerings are funny, maybe a little “scary” and of course colorful.

       

      Clementine Pumpkins | The Road Home  – cancels out the candy right?

       

      So here’s part of our line-up for All Hallow’s Eve at our house. We’ll offer our friends and fellow trick-or-treaters Mad Scientist Bubbly Brew, followed by cauliflower brain dip, and darling little “pumpkins” made of clementines and celery. There will be other things, but these are my favorites. I hope this sampling of our Halloween inspires you to think like a child even for just one day. Happy Halloween everyone!

       

      Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

      Halloween Cauliflower Brain with Guacamole - gruesome but great | The Road Home
      Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

      Have you got any special halloween foods you make at your house? We’d love to hear about them! Comment below to let us know!

       

       

      Clementine Pumpkins

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • One dozen or more Clementines
      • Several stalks celery

      Directions:

      1. Peel Clementines and place on a fun Halloween platter.
      2. Cut a stalk of celery into small pieces for the pumpkin stem. Stick a celery piece into the top of each peeled Clementine and serve!

      Creepy Cauliflower Brain Dip with Guacamole

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

        Guacamole

        • 4 ripe avocados peeled and pitted
        • ½ cup chopped onions
        • 1/8 cup fresh lime juice
        • ¼ cup cilantro (optional)
        • 1 4 ounce can finely chopped seeded jalapeno chilies**
        • 1 teaspoon salt
        • ¾ teaspoon pepper
        • 1 cup of tomatoes, diced and seeded (or canned diced tomatoes in the winter)

        Brain

        • 1 large cauliflower
        • 1 package of red licorice string

        Directions:

        1. Place all guacamole ingredients but tomatoes in a food processor or in a medium sized bowl. Puree in the food processor or puree in bowl using an immersion blender until very smooth.
        2. Drain tomatoes thoroughly through a sieve and gently blend into the avocado mixture using a spatula.
        3. Remove all of the leaves from the cauliflower and remove the stem so that there is a hollow area, but most of the florets are intact. (Use toothpicks to hold the sides together if it starts to fall apart).
        4. Put the hollowed out cauliflower into a snug fitting bowl. (For a really scary presentation, wrap the bowl in cheesecloth stained with red food coloring.)
        5. Fill in with the guacamole and decorate the florets by weaving the licorice between the florets to make the veins and arteries.  You may also sprinkle a bit of red food coloring on the “arteries” as well but be careful not to overdo it.

        Mad Scientist Bubbly Brew

        From: Heide Lang

        Ingredients:

        • Clear glass container or punch bowl
        • Artificial green or red drink, such as Gatorade or Hawaiian Punch (You may also use a clear liquid like seltzer or Sprite, died with food coloring, if you want)
        • Gummy worms, plastic spiders or any other creepy creatures you wish
        • Dry ice

        Directions:

        1. Fill container or punch bowl with a green or red beverage.
        2. Place gummy worms, spiders, etc, on the edge of the bowl.
        3. Add a few small pieces or pellets of dry ice, just enough to get the brew bubbling and smoky. If it comes in a big brick, you will need to chip pieces off of it. (Do NOT pick up dry ice with your bare hands. Use tongs to handle it or protective rubber gloves if you must pick it up with your hands.)
        4. Serve immediately, adding additional pieces of dry ice every 10 minutes, or as needed.

        In The Fridge: Cooking Corn at Midnight

        If ever there was a day to write an “in the fridge” post, it was last week. We came home a day early from New Orleans in the wake of  “Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Turned-out-to be-Barely-Cloudy-in-New Orleans Karen (it was petering out to sea as we were boarding the plane, only we were delayed because of ‘high winds’ at Newark international. Do I need to point out the irony? Oy).

         

        CornCastIronSkillet

         

        I’m always fearful when I open the door to our house after a trip. Something a little scary always happens when we’re gone, only this time I was hardly worried since my parents were house sitting for all but the last day. I walked in and there was this vague scent of musty vegetables. I put a deliriously tired Francesca to bed and then went to investigate. It took me a good long while to realize the freezer wasn’t completely closed from ice build-up, which happens from time to time. Everything was still vaguely cool, but definitely not frozen.  Most things had to be thrown away, but there was a lot of corn that was still cold. Fortunately, I remembered a recipe I taught once for a farmers market class – Lime Ancho Corn Soup  – which I once modified during a class for a student who didn’t eat any dairy.

         

        limezestancho2

         

        I took out my cast iron skillet, turned up the flame, and voila re-created this great, fast, and easy side dish that combines blackened corn with lime and ancho chile powder. This dish can also be converted into a salad by chilling the corn and adding red onions, tomatoes and avocadoes as well.

         

         

        corncastiron

         

         

        I was feeling very jet lagged and very bummed to be cooking at midnight, but of course very happy the next day to have the corn with roasted capon. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for a refrigerator mishap to make this dish. Enjoy!

         

         

        cornsaladplate2

         

         

        Question of the Day: Have you ever turned around a refrigerator disaster like this? What did you do? We want to know!

         

         

        Burnt Corn with Lime and Ancho Chile Spice

        From: Heide Lang

        Ingredients:

        • 3 tablespoons canola oil
        • 2 pounds (about 4 ½ cups,) frozen or fresh organic corn*
        • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
        • 2 limes
        • ¾ teaspoon pepper
        • 1-1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
        • 2 teaspoons ancho or chipotle chili powder divided
        • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
        • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
        • 1 medium red onion coarsely chopped
        • 2 avocados diced (optional)
        • 2 tomatoes coarsely chopped (optional)

        Directions:

        1. Heat canola oil in a non-stick pan, preferably cast iron.
        2. Add corn. Mix well to assure all the kernels are coated with oil.
        3. Add the salt, stir and cook on medium high for 10 minutes, or until the kernels start to brown and even burn in some places. (It will smell vaguely of popcorn and may even pop a kernel or two, so be careful!)
        4. Zest both limes (you should have 2 teaspoons of zest)
        5. Add the zest and the juice of one lime to the skillet. Mix well and then add the ancho powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir well and serve. You may also serve the corn as a light and healthy salad by letting the corn cool for at least an hour in the refrigerator and adding red onions, avocado and tomatoes. Sprinkle the juice of the second lime over the salad, mix well and serve.

        Caramelized Shallots

        I was a bit of a rebel at cooking school, which was kind of surprising considering I was pretty much a nerd in high school. I was always asking a lot of questions, especially ones that began with “Why do we have to….?” One of the hallmarks of great French cooking, I learned very quickly, was that shortcuts were pretty much a no-no. We learned, for example, how to prepare mayonnaise and whip egg whites stiff by hand instead of using mixers or hand blenders just so we would know how if we needed to in the future.

         

        Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

         

        For chefs in a commercial kitchen this may come in handy on occasion, but I think every minute home cooks spend in the kitchen should be enjoyable. This means you should take shortcuts and even cheat a little sometimes. Otherwise, I know for a fact you will avoid certain ingredients, like shallots, which are tedious to peel since you need so many more them than onions, and slicing or dicing may them burn your eyes. You should never avoid such a wonderful ingredient such as shallots since they add so much flavor, being a little less bitter than onions and really sweet when caramelized.

         

        Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

         

        So I’ve come up with a an easy way to caramelize massive amounts of shallots with very little labor after being inspired by a  12-Hour Rabbit Bolognese recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Great Britain (a book by the way everyone should own). He just puts all the ingredients whole into this rabbit stew and the onions just fall apart and assimilate during braising. So smart. I thought that perhaps I could achieve the same results with shallots if I just peel large shallots, quarter them and slowly cook them in a bit of oil. It works!

         

        Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

         

        So what, you say?  Shallots cooked this way are a great replacement for onions in stews, or in pureed soups, mixed in with vegetables or mashed potatoes (see Stoemp). You could also add these to a pot pie, fill puff pastry cups with shallots and add a bit of goat cheese for a easy elegant appetizer, or again really use them anywhere you use cooked onions. Today, for example, I used them for a meatloaf. First I added a bit of cognac to the shallots, and let the alcohol burn off. Then I pureed them before adding them to the ground beef and other ingredients (you can also just chop them – fine or coarse – or leave them just the way they are).  There’s really no end on how you can use them.

         

        Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

         

        Do you have any go-to ingredient or spice that adds pizzazz to everyday meals? Let us know in the comments, below!

         

         

         

         

        Caramelized Shallots 1-2-3

        From: Heide Lang

        Ingredients:

        • 8 large shallots, or 12 smaller ones peeled.
        • 4-5 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)

        Directions:

        1. Cut off the root of the shallots and quarter them
        2. Heat a medium size sauté pan and add 4 tablespoons of oil.
        3. Add the shallots and coat them with the hot oil. Break up the shallots with a firm spatula as they cook until all they have all fallen apart.
        4. Cook over a low-medium heat until the shallots start to brown, about 25 minutes. Add the last tablespoon or more of canola oil if the shallots stick to the pan
        5. Remove the shallots from pan and add to your favorite vegetable, stew, soup, or any place else you would use cooked onions. (You may chop or puree them as well.)

        Baked Potato Nachos

        I should note before I go on, that this is recipe is not just for lazy students – it’s a festive and delicious grownup lunch, too. I just feel like I have to explain where this recipe comes from, and the truth is that it comes from necessity. As every student knows, Sunday is perhaps the furthest thing possible from a day of rest. It’s actually the day you recover from the fact that you put off your homework all week and have to get it all done before class begins tomorrow. And of course when you’re doing all that cramming, you just get hungrier and hungrier and so you’re put in a difficult position: extreme hunger, and no time to cook.

         

         

        Baked Potato Nachos quick/easy/addictive lunch or study snack! | The Road Home

         

         

        I’ve weighed the benefits of many snacks, but few things cut it just right. Ice cream is cold, creamy and delicious but takes too much self control not eat the whole pint. Seaweed has almost no calories, but there’s only so much seaweed a person can eat. Ramen is quick and filling but… ew. I needed to find something delicious, something quick, something filling and most importantly something that would wake me up. And I found that in the Baked Potato Nacho. It takes no more than 30 seconds to melt Cheddar on a half a spud, top it with Crema Mexicana (I know, classy, right?) and sliced Jalapeños, which are spicy enough to remind you not to fall asleep.* Best of all there is no whole pack to eat, because you’d have to consciously go make another one, and you’d be too smart to go do that! And the sky is the limit in terms of what you can put on them – tomatoes, olives, salsa, tabasco sauce, chipotle mayo or ground beef if you have time on your hands. Next time you’re desperate for a quick lunch check these out – they’re ever so… wait for it… appeeling! (Sorry).

         

        *30 seconds if you already have a baked potato. If you don’t, you will have to wait for one.

         

         

        How about you – what are (or were) your favorite study snacks? Let me know in the comments below!

        Baked Potato Nachos

        Ingredients:

        • 1 baked potato*/**
        • 2-3 oz Cheddar cheese, grated or broken into small pieces
        • 2 dollops of crema Mexicana*** or sour cream
        • 8-10 slices hot pickled jalapeños

        Directions:

        1. Cut your potato in half, and sprinkle cheddar evenly over the top.
        2. Microwave for about 30 seconds.
        3. Top with crema/sour cream, and evenly distribute the jalapeños
        4. You’re done. If that felt too easy, that’s because it was.