Saturday, September 29, 2012

What Man Wants: BBQ Ribs

A few days after my son started his gym routine, my husband joined in, and now about four-five times a week we have a family night out at the gym followed by a nice home made dinner.  
Last night, while I was driving, teenager and husband had this conversation:
Teenager: Oh, did you see that cool car Mercedes SLS AMG?! That car is a super chick magnet!- exclaimed he, turning his had.
Husband: You said that Mercedes is not a cool car anymore.
Teenager: Not that one. It costs around $200,000, and is one of the best muscle cars,- said he, going into technical details.
Husband (after teenager finished his flow of technical eloquence): What other cars are cool?
Teenager: Toyota's Prius is cool. A new generation of chick magnets, - declared he, proudly.
Husband, articulating slowly: Why Prius?
Teenager: Many girls are all about protecting the environment. Being sustainable and green for them is like a new fashion.  Prius fits in their environmental set of mind. I am telling you, Prius is a new chick magnet! I know, - and nodded his head as an expert.
Both, husband and I, tried hard to hold a sudden urge to laugh. 


BBQ Ribs "Kissed by smoke, hugged by sauce, licked by fire..." 
There's no recipe for those ribs, mainly the process. Technically, it's not BBQ as  I made it in the oven.  
I marinated meat in herbs and spices with a little liquid smoke,  wrapped the ribs in a  foil and refrigerated for 24 hours. 
Then I baked the ribs at 200 F (95 C) for 4 hours. 
After the ribs had been in the oven for 4 hours I opened the foil and increased the temperature to 450 F (235 C) and let it brown for another 20-25 minutes. 
That's when you can baste the ribs with the BBQ sauce, but the husband doesn't like it, hence I serve the sauce on the side.  
Take the ribs out of  the oven, cover with a foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.  
Meal that fits a supermen....

See you,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spicy Aubergine (Eggplant) Fries

Technically it's not a fries as it's baked in the oven with just a little oil to prevent eggplants from absorbing too much oil in it. 

2 eggplants
2 tablespoons salt
2-3 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tbsp olive oil 
1 tsp granulated garlic

Cut eggplants lengthwise  into 1/2 inch  strips, mix with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. 
Preheat the oven to 450 F/230C.
Rinse  the eggplants under a running water to remove excess of salt, pat dry with the towel (or paper towel). 
In a large bowl combine olive oil, chopped rosemary, garlic and cayenne pepper and coat eggplants in the mixture by tossing it a few times. 
Transfer to a baking sheet and place on a middle rack in the oven. 
Bake 25-30 minutes, turning the baking sheet 180 degrees half way through the baking. 

Warning: highly addictive! :)

See you,

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Little Adventure in Dallas, TX

Rest area entering Texas near Denison: everything is bigger in Texas! 

I've been searching for a job for quite some time with a very little success. With my husband's graduation from medical residency program approaching, I switched my job search from this area to Seattle, where he is looking for a job as well. 
Two weeks ago, to my delight, I received an invitation for an interview. 
My interview was scheduled for Monday, my plane ticket was for Sunday from Dallas to Seattle, I left home on Saturday to make sure I made the morning plane on-time as we live 289 miles from the DFW airport. I felt confident with my plan. 
My first stop in Dallas was at Whole Foods, where I ate a whole salad section (I think): price you pay for living in a food desert.  Then I went to the place I would spent the night before heading to the airport early in the morning, just a short 17 miles away. 
I woke up early Sunday morning, anticipating a short drive, boarding on a plane and four hours later embracing my daughter at the Seattle's airport. Blissfully unaware what that day had in mind for me, I put a big smile on my face, entered the airport address in my GPS Lola, and drove a few miles, inhaling a fresh crisp morning air and enjoying a beautiful view. 

A few minutes later my Lola warned me to prepare to take exit, and my complete alert was on the road and on reading the road signs. When Lola finally commanded me to exit there was no exit to take! Such exit didn't exist anymore after a new road construction, and Lola in her never changing tone took me for a de-tour street after street to another highway, hopefully taking me to the airport. 
That road, being also under construction, had only one lane opened for traffic with concrete walls on each side almost the height of my little Corolla. The only visible things for me were cars ahead of me, beautiful blue sky above, and reflecting in a rare view mirror cars behind me. As soon as I entered that concrete corridor, my speed reduced to 10 miles in hour, and then to a complete stop. 
Skipping the dull details about the rest of my "getting-to-the-airport drama", and definite emotions of what supposed to be a beautiful morning, I got to the airport too late. I asked an airline agent for a seat on another plane, but all they were able to offer to me was a seat for the next morning (Monday) flight, for which I had to pay an extra $150 and miss the interview anyway. 

After thinking my options through I decided to go back home. Another six hours drive I made in a complete silence. I was in a stage of denial of everything what happened to me up until the teenager opened the door on Sunday evening, when I got home, and asked: "Why are you here?" Then the husband came, asking: "Why didn't you take the Monday plane?" 
I gave one very short answer: "I missed my plane. There was an accident on a road, nothing I could do about it. Would you, please, just let me rest a little before we talk more about it?"
I sent an e-mail to the HR, informing them that I missed the plane and won't be able to be in person for my interview, and then dropped on the couch in the living room, speechless and even thoughtless.
Later that night, after a detailed conversations with my husband and philosophical exchange with my friend Lisa, I released from the drama with ease: if I can't change it, why to hold on to it and let negative emotions to control my life?! 

Next morning, the Monday morning, the interview day morning, two hours before the actual interview time, I received a phone call from the  HR department asking me if I wouldn't mind to have a phone interview. Mind?! Of course I didn't mind, I was thrilled, teasing my husband, that I made the wise decision to come home instead of flying on Monday: I would've been in flight and would've definitely missed this phone call and the phone interview later.

To me nothing in this whole ordeal is logical, I just know that things happen, and many times in our life those happenings are beyond our control.  My friend Penny always tells me that things in our life happen for a reason. And my other friend Nancy has another favorite phrase: "What must be will be". And one of my own personal favorite: when one door closes, many other open to a new experience, just keep your head clutter free and think positive...

Food always makes life taste better... :)

Have you ever missed a plane? Or a train? Or an important event?

See you,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stuffed Dates

Last night after our dinner I prepared a plate for today's post. It was quite dark to take photos, so I decided to leave the plate in the refrigerator and take another, better photo after sun comes up in the morning. After dropping the teenager at school, I drove back home, thinking of what place in my home  is better to take photos this time of the day? Would it be kitchen? Or Living room?  Upon my return, I started to prepare the set: props, position of the table (I am gaining muscles moving furniture around for better photos as I don't use any additional lights. More on that in a later posts). When everything was ready I went to the kitchen for the plate... Before I checked refrigerator, with the corner of my eyes I caught the familiar plate in the kitchen sink.  "It must be left by someone after the breakfast" - was my innocent thought. Then I opened the refrigerator... My head was turning from refrigerator to the sink in disbelief.  I looked at the happy husband, who was sipping his morning coffee and reading the news. 
"Thanks for the breakfast", - he said. "I love those roasted vegetables. The plate was pretty too. Can you make some more?" 
"Yes, dear"- was my respond with a deep sigh...  
I approached my husband, giving him a hug and kissing him in a well groomed cheek, and murmured in his ear: "I wanted to take a picture of that plate, dear..." 
"Do you know, there is a guy, who ate too much pop corn..." - spoke he softly, taking the conversation into the different direction... 

We continued our  morning conversation about all things life with some tea (me) and coffee (husband) and walnuts stuffed dates, that I made a day before, and had already taken some photos. :)

See you,

Friday, September 14, 2012

Biscotti di Polenta

Polenta and Chia Seeds Biscotti

A couple of weeks ago, when I picked up our teenager after his soccer practice (football for the rest of the world outside the US), we had this conversations:
Me: How was your day at school? What did you learn?
Teenager: OK. Things. 
Me: What did you do today at your soccer practice? Did you play?
Teenager: No, we just did some drills. I am tiered, we had to run 45 circles (4.5 miles) because ten students didn't bring their white tea shirts...
Me: And everyone had to run?!...
Teenager: Yes, but they definitely will bring it next time,- said he grinding his teeth, then asked: did you go to the gym today?
Me: Yes, you know I go in the mornings. Why?
Teenager: Can you drive me to the gym?
Me, puzzled, and after the pause: "O...K... but didn't you just said that you are tiered after running 4,5 miles?
Teenager: Yes, but we don't have to go right now, we can go in an hour.
Me: Well, let me know in an hour and we'll go if you still want it,- thinking he would fell asleep, probably, first thing after he gets home.
And he did, but not for the long: one hour later we were on our way to the gym. I already had my workout for the day, yet another mile or two wouldn't hurt, was my though, and teenager is tiered and we'll be out off the gym in 20-30 minutes. 
Little did I know... I run an extra 5 miles that day (in addition to my morning 3 miles run and a workout) while teenager was pumping iron to build his muscles, and... ready for this? I wasn't... run another 3 miles! 
I am impressed by their energy level and endurance! Was I the same when I was sixteen? :)
Since then, we go to the gym almost every day, sometimes I make even two trips because I really love my morning yoga class. 
So, how does this all relates to the biscotti, you would say? Here is how: we burn more calories, which means we need more calories... which means we can have something sweet more often without contributing to a waist line... Which means I have no more excuses not to bake... :)

I love my biscotti with a milk...

Polenta and Chia Seeds Biscotti

Recipe is adapted from the book 'Dolce Italiano' by Gina DePalma

3 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup instant or fine polenta
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Zest of a whole lemon
juice of half of the lemon (about one tablespoon)

1. Combine together the flour, polenta, baking powder, chia seeds,  and salt and put aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugar (in the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) until light and fluffy. 
3. Scrape the bowl, and start adding the eggs and egg yolks, one at the time, mixing well after each addition.
4. Add vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest, and mix well.
5. Add  dry ingredients and mix on low speed until everything is incorporated, then add sunflower seed and give it a final mix.
6. Cower the bowl with the dough with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
7. Preheat the oven to 325 F (165 C) and prepare two baking sheets: line it with parchment or oil it.
8. Flour your hands and place the dough on a well floured surface. Divide the dough in  3-4 equal portions and form long 10-12 inches logs and about 1 1/2 inch in diameter, and place them in the baking sheets, leaving a space between logs of 3 inches.
9. Glaze the logs with the egg white, and sprinkle with sugar (optional).
10. Bake logs for about 30 minutes or until it's golden brown.
11. Take the logs from the oven, let them cool. When it's cool enough to handle, slice biscotti with serrated knife on angle into 1/2 inch slices (or as thick as you like).
12. Place the slices in one layer on the baking sheet again, and bake in reduced to 200 F (95 C) for 30-35 minutes. Adjust the time if you cut your slices thinner.
13. Cool it completely and enjoy for up to two weeks in an airtight container (never happened in my family: three days is max we have this biscotti around!)

An eye pleasing "bouquet"...

Do you have a baking story to share? 
I would love to hear it!

See you,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Week of Pasta

Homemade biscotti, homemade yellow squash and tomato sauce,
and penne (not homemade)

Last week I was away from blogging. After a quiet time with family on Labor Day, rest of the week turned into a chaos: teenager's school activities, college search, ACT, scholarships search, a job search for husband, helping our daughter with her college, my own job hunt, interrupted by couple of power outages were less than blog friendly. Each time I started to respond to the comments, I would be interrupted by some emergency. After it happened third time on the row, I decided it was a sign to take a break and take care of all things required my attention.  We were able to sort things out and make plans, and now I can get back to blogging and share some recipes. 

Homemade fettuccine and homemade pesto
My dear friends, please, come back for biscotti recipe... :)

See you,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Restaurant Candle 79, New York

After our stop at the bookstore Kitchen Arts and Letter, it was only natural to have some real food to please our teased by so many culinary books taste buds. My friend Lisa had something very specific in her mind: organic vegan restaurant Candle 79 on the corner of Lexington  Avenue and 79th Street.
From the entrance an elegant hostes takes us upstairs in to the contemporary and simple yet elegant zen space. Floor to ceiling windows on one side provide comfortable light while blocking a noise of busy New York streets. A relaxing atmosphere is created by a lit candle on each table. 
We are ready to indulge...

With the menu arrives this amuse: 
Chickpea & Portobello salad with Red Pepper Dressing

Saffron-lobster mushroom ravioli: spinach ravioli, sauteed garlic spinach, cashew ricotta, truffled tomato sauce.  

Grilled Kale: haricots verts (French for green beans), beluga lentils, red onions, turnips, avocado, sunflower seeds, spelt berries, chive vinaigrette

One of the most popular dishes Seitan Piccata: creamed spinach, grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, lemon-caper sauce

Rosemary Truffled Potatoes

Dessert: Pan-seared port wine cherries with French vanilla cashew cream, ginger candied pumpkin seeds and vanilla ice cream

Forbes called Candle 79  "a premiere destination for serious vegans and vegetarians", although even omnivores will be satisfied with enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff, elegant and delicious food, prepared from the local ingredients, and some exceptional vines. 
Candle 79 is a place to try something truly different and fell in love with it. Make reservations!

154 East 79th Street at Lexington Avenue | New York, NY 10021 
212-537-7179 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            212-537-7179      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Candle 79. It was Lisa's  generous treat. Thank you, my friend! 

See you,

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Welcome To My Labor Day Picnic: It's All About A Pie!

An apple pie

Ricotta cheese and dill pie

Mushrooms, leek and egg pie

Enjoy the picnic!

See you,