Flashback Friday – Pleased To Meet You

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 9/29/08 at Exit 51.

Pleased To Meet You

Happy birthday blog.  You’re officially one year old.  Well officially, you were one year old last month.  I’m just a little late with the party.  Your card?  That must have gotten lost in the mail.

So in the year that I’ve been rambling about this and that, I have absolutely no idea who is reading this.  No, that’s not right.  I know that Miss G and Frau Poshizzle stop by.  But who the heck are the rest of you?  I know somebody’s coming here, wordpress tells me so.

See, there’s this stat function that tells me how many visits I get on any given day.  It also tells me whether visits were direct hits (somebody does have us bookmarked!) or if it was the result of a search of some kind.  The oddest string someone has used to get here  was toxic-plants-berries.  Yeah, I don’t get that one either.  Clearly, they took a wrong turn somewhere.

But the thing it doesn’t tell me is who is on the other side of the computer screen.  And I’m dying to know.  So if you’d be so kind as to drop a quick comment and say hello, I’d be much obliged.

Wood Butter

I try and take good care of all my things.  Clothes, cars, cookware, whatever…if it belongs to me, it’s my responsibility to properly maintain it.  One glaring exception to this rule has been my wooden cooking utensils.

I’m one of those people who knows better but throws the wooden spatulas, spoons, and cutting boards into the dishwasher anyway.  I’m also one of those people who has some gnarly, dried out wooden spatulas, spoons, and cutting boards.

And then, thanks to a series of links I can no longer reconstruct, I landed over at 3191 Miles Apart‘s post about Wood Butter. Actually,  I landed on their post about Spoon Oil but I like the name Wood Butter better.  Within moments of reading the post, I was burning up Twitter, the Googley, and eBay trying to find a source of pure beeswax that could arrive via overnight express.  Because, dear friends, I was on a rescue mission.  I was determined to save my long neglected wooden utensils.

Thanks to eBay, PayPal, and the USPS, I was soon in possession of four ounces of sunshine.  That’s the only way I can describe the smell of pure beeswax.  Sweet and warm with just a hint of green.  Heady stuff to be sure.

Wax was melted, mineral oil was heated, and the two were introduced to the inside of a quart Ball jar.  After stirring and cooling, it was time to get down to business. I soon learned less is more when working with wood butter because a little goes a lot farther than I had expected.  Spoons, spatulas, and board received a Wood Butter massage and were set aside to rest and relax.  A day later, excess Wood Butter was buffed away with a clean dish towel and the utensils were put back in the drawer.

Now, when I open that drawer, I’m not greeted by the gnarly shrieks of dried out spoons and spatulas.  Instead, I could swear I hear contented sighs and get the faintest whiff of sunshine.

Want to experience the miraculous powers of Wood Butter?  You’re in luck.  Since my stash of Wood Butter far exceeds my wooden utensils inventory, I’m going to give some away.  To enter, leave a comment below confessing whether you too are guilty of crimes against your wooden utensils.  Entries must be received by midnight on April 30th.  The randomly selected winner will be announced on May 1st.

Want to make your own Wood Butter?  Keep reading.

Wood Butter

BAH Note:  If you have a great farmer’s market, check there for a source of local pure beeswax.  Since I did my searching in February, I had better luck over on eBay.  Mineral oil can be found at the drug store or supermarket near the laxatives.  If you want to scale down the size of your batch of Wood Butter, use a 4:1 ratio – four ounces of mineral oil to each ounce of beeswax.  My wax came in individual one ounce bars.  If yours is larger you may want to break it into smaller chunks.

  • 4 ounces pure beeswax
  • 16 ounces mineral oil

Bring a saucepan of water to a gentle boil.  Place your beeswax inside a one quart glass jar  and set the jar in the simmering water.  While the wax is melting, place the mineral oil inside another large glass jar.

Once all the wax has melted, carefully remove the jar from the saucepan and set it aside making sure to place a dish towel or pot holder under the bottom of the jar before setting it down.  Set the jar of mineral oil into the simmering water until it has warmed a bit.

Carefully remove the jar of mineral oil from the pan and pour the oil into the melted wax.  Stir with a wooden skewer until the two are thoroughly combined and allow to cool completely.  The final product will thicken and turn opaque.  Seal your jar tightly with a lid.

Pork Cutlets with Orange Sauce

During my last cookbook breakup, I left the South Beach cookbooks on the shelf.  While we don’t use them for our meals every day, I like having them around.  When we get tired of the same old, same old, I can open them up for some inspiration.  It’s funny how sometimes when I look at a recipe I have no desire to make it.  Then another time I can’t wait to get in the kitchen and start cooking.  That about describes how it came to be that we finally tried pork cutlets with orange sauce.

Pork Cutlets with Orange Sauce

Adapted From South Beach Quick and Easy

BAH Note: These would have been better if I had brined the chops for a few hours.  Pan frying can really do a number on the moistness of a chop.

  • 8 pork cutlets, approximately 3 ounces each, about 3/4 inch thick
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced (approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • zest and juice from one small orange

Pat the pork dry and then season with salt, pepper, and the rosemary.  Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Working in batches, cook the pork until lightly browned, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Transfer the cooked chops to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Reduce the heat to low and add remaining oil to the skillet.  Add the shallot and cook for one minute.  Raise the heat back to medium high and add the broth and orange juice and zest.  Cook until the liquid reduces by half and starts to just thicken.

Return the pork, and any accumulated juices, back to the skillet and cook 1 minute more, turning the chops to coat them in the sauce.

{printable recipe}

Garlicky Green Beans

I may have mentioned before that we’ve gotten kind of bad about making sure our meals include some kind of vegetable.  Occasionally, I manage to include a veg on the plate.  More often than not, I don’t.  Here’s one of the ones that actually made it into a meal.

Garlicky Green Beans

Adapted from Kim O’Donnel

BAH Note:  KO’D recommends testing your oil by dipping the end of a green bean in it.  When the oil is ready it will sizzle.

  • 1 pound green beans, ends trimmed, snapped in half
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white wine
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil, optional

Combine soy sauce, sugar, chili-garlic sauce, and wine in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a nonstick frying pan set over high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.  Add the water, stir, and cover the pan.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the beans are crisp-tender, approximately 5 minutes.  Transfer the beans to a plate and drain off any remaining water.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the pan and place over medium high heat.  Add the ginger and scallion and cook approximately 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Return the green beans to the pan, give the soy sauce mixture a stir and add it to the pan.  Cook, stirring constantly until the liquid is almost evaporated, approximately 1 minute.  Drizzle with sesame oil, if using, and serve immediately.

{printable recipe}

Overnight Chicken

Call me quirky but I think that’s one sexy picture.  I love how the chicken is a lovely shade of golden browned and the cutting board is covered in succulent, dijon/curry/soy goodness.  The only thing I would change about this meal is deciding to pair it with some overly aggressive ginger glazed carrots.  They completely overpowered the chicken.

Overnight Chicken

Adapted from Baked Bree

BAH Note:  As long as you remember to prep the chicken the night before, this recipe will treat you just fine.

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 bone in chicken breasts

In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, dijon, curry powder, and soy sauce.  Transfer the liquid to a large bowl or plastic bag and add the chicken.  Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the chicken and marinade in a large baking dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 1 hour.  After an hour, increase heat to 375 degrees, remove the foil, and baste the chicken with the juices.  Bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Oven Hot

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 9/24/08 at Exit 51.

Oven Hot

This recipe is coming to you courtesy of last week’s Food Chat over at the Washington Post. The timing was perfect since I’m trying to find new and interesting ways to work those SB Friendly veggies into our meals. SFC has already established that he’s a fan of the sweet potato. But I didn’t know how he’d feel about squash.

Hitting the Oven

He came in the kitchen as I was cutting and chopping and asked, “Is that squash?”  The tone of his question didn’t tell me whether he was excited or not.  He went off to the basement, to do whatever it is he does down there, and I went back to getting the squash, shallots, and rosemary ready for their coating of salt, sugar, and olive oil.

About thirty minutes later, after the vegetables had come out of the oven and the pork chops went in for a quick roast, he came upstairs.  Making his way over to the cooling veg, he said, “Something smells good.”  Before I could say a word, he started stealing bites off the sheet pan.  Guess that means that he won’t mind if I make this again.  I hope not, because I picked up another squash at the store this weekend.

My only gripe with this is that there’s no reference to oven temperature.  I started out with my oven around 400 degrees.  After the first 20 minutes of roasting, I cranked it up to around 450.  I think the squash was a little too crowded on the sheet pan.  I had more of a steamed veg than a roasted one.  No matter though.  We ate it all.

Butternut Squash Roasted with Rosemary and Shallot

From The Washington Post, who credits it as being adapted from Fine Cooking magazine.

This side dish achieves long-roasted flavor and caramelization in a half-hour’s time. To double the recipe, use 2 baking sheets; if roasting both sheets simultaneously, increase the final roasting time to 20 to 25 minutes.  This can be made several hours ahead and reheated just before serving.

4 servings

  • 3 cups 3/4-inch diced butternut squash (from a 2-pound squash)
  • 4 medium shallots, cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Distribute the diced squash and quartered shallots in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over them and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the rosemary, salt, sugar and pepper over the vegetables and toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, stir the vegetables and continue roasting for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve hot.

David Lebovitz’s Gateau Therese

What happens when a winter storm collides with a planned dinner party?  People cancel.  At least that’s what happened to the December 2010 installment of our Inspired Supper Club.  Fr. Leo was coming in from Emmitsburg, Adam and Joanne were driving up from NOVA, Mary was driving cross town, and Lan was crossing the Boulevard to meet up at our house for a pre-holiday celebration. Then the ice came. And the calls and emails started.  Should we cancel?  Should we continue as planned?

The good thing about my Type A personality is that I usually have a back up plan.  So when Adam and Joanne said they wouldn’t be able to make it, we moved Fr. Leo’s soup into the appetizer spot on the menu.  And when Mary decided that the ice and her brakes were not getting along, I immediately put Gateau Therese to the task of rounding out the meal.

If someone had walked into our house not knowing the chaos that the weather had wrought, they never would have guessed the evening had ever been in jeopardy.  Because The Mistah, Lan, Fr. Leo, and I had an  incredibly Inspired Supper.  While there were a few empty chairs at the table, we had an abundance of laughter and were nourished by the chance to connect with one another.

Gateau Therese

Adapted from David Lebovitz “The Sweet Life in Paris”

  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom with a strip of parchment (make it into a sling so you have handles coming out the sides), and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the kosher salt on low speed until foamy.  Increase the speed to medium until soft peaks form.  Add half the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks are formed when the beater is removed from the bowl.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in the top of a double boiler set over a pot of simmering water.  When just melted, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining half of the sugar, the egg yolks, and the flour.  Stir until just combined.

Mix 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten the batter.  Then carefully fold the remaining whites into the batter just until the batter is smooth and no white streaks remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes until the cake just feels slightly firm in the center.  Cool the cake in the pan then grab the parchment sling and carefully remove the cake from the pan.

{printable recipe}