Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Eve Spectacular (and day after Christmas pancakes from a box)

WHEW. With that, the Christmas season has come to a close. New Years is right around the corner and everyone has joined a new gym and we're almost done cleaning up after Christmas Eve Dinner. Almost. Leftovers? Still in the fridge. Christmas cookies? Still on a 3-a-day diet. Might have to up it to 4. All in all the Holiday was a good time for just about everyone. We've picked up the tradition of  hosted a big dinner on Christmas Eve for both of our families and some close friends every year. Last year we tackled a beef wellington dish and had four other courses. This year we toned it down just a little, preparing a rack of pork with sides and French onion soup. The meal definitely created a sense of fullness which really set the trend for the rest of the next two days. After dinner we sat around the fire and exchanged gifts and had a white elephant gift exchange. If you've never done one its a good time to see Murphy's law in action and may be the only time you can see a staunch Republican get a commemorative Obama plate or Charisse let Eric have a garden gnome. One of Eric's family traditions growing up is reading a Christmas story on Christmas Eve, so Eric read "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"  to everyone as the party wound down. For those who made it we took a walk around the neighborhood around midnight looking at all the lights and talking about what tomorrow would bring. Christmas started for us around 6 AM with trips back and forth between both of our parents houses. When we got home, it was straight to bed with a thankful heart, full stomachs and the feeling that when we woke up, the house would be a disaster. The next morning, we discovered that it was worse than we thought. Paper, boxes and ribbons everywhere and stacks of dishes to do so we did the only sensible thing: made pancakes from a mix with Eric's new Pancake molds, which turned out to be the perfect after Christmas breakfast. We hope you all had  a wonderful holiday (whichever one you might celebrate) and all have wonderful and safe New Years Eve! We'll see you next year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Candy II

Don't you love it when life gets in the way of your most well made plans? We've got a week's worth of Candies, another week's worth of Cookies and so far have gotten to posting practically none of it. Go us. Surprisingly our candy stocks have been hanging on this year. Last year, everything we made was gone practically by the end of the day but this year it looks like a lot of it is going to last until Christmas day. Whats not going to last are these babies: Cookie Dough Truffles. Now we both are well aware of the fact that raw egg can give you salmonella. We are also both well aware that there is raw egg in cookie dough. It is additionally not uncommon to see either of us sneaking little giant spoonfuls of cookie dough whenever its in the house. Eric has been known to snipe balls of dough right off the baking pan as its going into the oven. To say we like ourselves some cookie dough would be a major understatement, perhaps be biggest understatement since we declared our love for bacon. It was not surprising at all then when Charisse and Jen sent Eric and Dan off to do some Christmas shopping while they put these ones together. We broke out our candy for the first time to a larger audience last week when we hosted Charisse's company holiday party which turned out to be an adventure in and of itself. If you haven't caught the news, December has been pretty wet in California and the party landed right in the middle of a pretty bad storm. With dinner just hitting the oven and people due at the door any minute, there was a pop and all the lights went out... and stayed out. A visit to our local CVS to raid their candle supply (which very suddenly ran low) and the generosity of our friends Steve and Sarah who live nearby and let us borrow their oven to save the night. Charisse put out our candies for an appetizer and they were a hit.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Candy Truffles

CHRISTMAS CANDY! In case you haven't noticed, we're basically little kids who have jobs. We get excited about things like Disneyland, Birthday Parties and playing video games. So maybe its mostly Eric that gets excited about video games, but lets not split hairs here because the biggest thing that we get really kid like excited about is Christmas, which in our house starts exactly the moment Santa comes down the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It would actually start a lot earlier except Eric puts his big grinchy foot down and strictly prohibits Christmas movies and Christmas Carols from New Years to Thanksgiving which makes Charisse all the more eager to sneak them in when he's not around. Its pretty funny to see how mad Eric can get when he hops in Charisse's car and discovers jingle bells in the CD player. But once that magical season starts we're up in the mountains chopping down a tree and covering the house in lights and tinsel. It is a time for Jen and Charisse to get together and bake and their husbands to go off and do manly things (play video games). This first round of baking lasted 10 1/2 hours and resulted 9 different types of Christmas Candy. Today we're showcasing some of the truffles. There are Chocolate truffles and white chocolate ones. Truffles with peppermint and toffee too! Since these are basically all the same truffle, it makes sense to do them together!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eggnog Ice Cream

There are really only two foods Charisse won't eat: raw celery and eggnog. Eric on the other hand? Loves eggnog. Raw celery? Well we're not as different as it seems. Now when Charisse started mixing up our ice cream for this post, there was a small shock when she said she was making eggnog. Looks like she does love her husband after all. Now the last time we made ice cream we ran into the problem that it was too icy, we'd tried to make a egg free ice cream and it just wasn't creamy enough. The egg really smooths the ice cream out and lets it keep that traditional ice cream consistency. We were putting together a fun little dinner just the two of us and Charisse wanted to take another crack at the ice cream maker and Eric had a hankering for eggnog. This time, it was perfect: creamy, a little spicy and very festive. At least that's what Eric said while he sat with the bowl between his legs, eating the last of it with a spoon straight from the mixing bowl. He also said it was cold. Don't worry, we won't tell him that theres no actual eggnog in this one until he's finished it, Charisse needs a clean bowl for her next ice cream adventure!

Extra! We have a winner from our contest last week: Food Hound! Food Hound, contact us and we'll send you your jar of bacon marmalade!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Polenta

All of your wonderful submissions for our bacon marmalade contest have been lip linkingly good! We were so  excited about doing our first contest / giveaway that we wound up doing our own entry on Tuesday night! We put together a creamy bacon and mushroom polenta that definitely rocked the polenta world. We pushed off posting this just in case anyone came up with the same idea, and if you did, then you might just win! So far I haven't seen it done yet, but theres still time left as we write this! Fall is coming to a very wintery finish here in the Bay Area and the Christmas season has gotten into full swing. Christmas stuff everywhere? Check. Certain closets / drawers / rooms people are not allowed to look in? Check. A front yard thats so bright it can be seen from space? Double Check. It also means nearly everything we cook is hearty and warm and goes well with cuddling by the fire. A huge dish of polenta that smells like bacon fits that description! If you've never had polenta, this is really a good starter for you. It's creamy and full of familiar flavors but carries that unique soup like texture that makes polenta... well... polenta. Definitely something to serve with a side of family!

Speaking of family, we wanted to make mention over the next week or so of a charity that Eric has been a huge fan of and contributer too. The charity is called Child's Play and is organized to provide toys and games to children's hospitals around the world. They are partnered with over 70 different hospitals and staffed entirely by volunteers during the holiday season, so every dime donated goes straight to help make long hospital stays for children with life threatening illnesses a little easier. We know that everyone is stretched to their limits these days but anything that you can donate really does make a difference. You can donate directly to a chosen hospital (see the website for the worldwide map of partnered hospitals) or simply donate via paypal or the tech friendly out there can text GAMERS to 50555 to donate $5.00 (its added to your cell phone bill). Check the website for the TaxID and other donation deduction help!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Link Love!

A short time ago we were contacted by the wonderful Lisa Orgler over at The Lunch Box Project about drawing a picture based on one of our recipes, the Nectarine Cupcakes from back in August. Of course we were excited to have someone inspired by our recipes and are happy to say that the piece came out really good! Lisa is selling prints of her work through her site, so head over there and say "hi!"

Also, don't forget to visit our Bacon Marmalade post and enter to win a jar of your very own!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bourbon Bacon Marmalade

We work really hard not to repeat recipes or do too much that is really similar to what we've done before but sometimes you have to break the rules. Earlier we did a whole meal using bacon in some form in each course. And some of the highlights may have got a bit lost in the overwhelmingly large bacon friendly meal, specifically the bourbon bacon marmalade. We had a whole bunch of this leftover and served it on burgers for Eric's birthday party the next day and you've never seen a pack of hungry wolves devour something so quickly. The whole bowl vanished in less than an hour, walking out on hot dogs, bread slices and BBQ bacon cheeseburgers because hey, what goes with bacon better than bacon? Anyway we decided that for Christmas we would recreate this marmalade and can it, making a fun gift to give out to all our friends and family, and what an adventure it was. Have you ever heard of a pressure canner? We hadn't until we had already made a whole batch and realized we needed one. Charisse was very excited with her new toy and started listing off all the things she could can, which is basically everything. Apparently Eric isn't the only one who likes new gadgets. The real treat though was seeing the virtual mountain of bacon we cooked up to produce enough marmalade for everyone, it was almost enough to build your own pig! One thing we were not sure of is what you can put this on. Eric seems to thing you can put this on just about everything but that might not work out the best if your having cherry ice cream. Some of the things we came up with are crackers and melted brie, burgers, hot dogs, most sandwiches, you could use it in an omelet or on sliced apples. And that train of thought got us thinking, who wants a jar of their own?

We're officially doing our first give-away! Whoever comes up with the best use for bacon marmalade as judged by Charisse and Eric wins one! Follow us, leave your suggestion in a comment and make sure it includes an email address or some other way to get a hold of you, and we'll announce the winner next week! Cut off time for entries is 5PM PST on Friday! 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn

Who remembers loving crackerjacks when they had actual toys inside? Did that just fill your head with all kinds of childhood memories? Maybe an old time baseball game or kicking around with friends or a visit to the dentist because your filling got pulled out?  Yeah, us too. Okay, maybe not the filling part but growing up crackerjack was a wonderful treat. All kinds of goofy trinkets and toys, mini baseball cards in there with the caramel popcorn and roasted nuts. We were at our friends Steve and Sarah's house the other week while Sarah was putting together a batch or spicy caramel corn. With our candy day coming up Charisse wanted some practice making caramel and what could be better to practice with than some good old fashioned caramel corn? Armed with a pot, a candy thermometer popcorn and various forms of sugar Charisse put together a most amazing candied snack ever. Once its cooled and broken up into chunks the caramel corn is everything you'd expect it to be. We found these popcorn bags somewhere and it makes such a great gift box or an awesome movie night snack, especially if you have kids that do slumber parties.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Chess Pie With Praline Sauce

Who takes whipped cream on their pumpkin pie? Everyone in the whole world should be jumping up and down and shouting "I do! I do!" because thats just how pumpkin pie is made. Yup it is basically a scientific fact that every slice of pumpkin pie is naturally grown with whipped cream on top, and apparently pies grown closer local college towns carry a bit of a kick. Okay, so maybe that last part is simply on our "to do some day" list, just for fun =P. With whipped cream being such a staple of the good old American pumpkin pie, imagine everyones shock when we put away the can and poured on a sauce! There were horrified glances around the table, whimpers of fear and the occasional look of sheer terror from our guests that night. What was this strange sauce? How dare they not have any cans of whipped cream in the house! The table was on the verge of mutiny! Or we're exaggerating a little bit. Here's what actually happened: everyone just scarfed down the whole pie in about 2 minutes and asked for more. Eric is a stickler for having whipped cream on his pie, but sometimes the old switch-a-roo comes out better than the original. The praline sauce was a huge hit and changed the way we're looking at pie. Its like putting icing on a cake, if you've only ever had cake, you wouldn't know what your missing, but if you add the best icing ever, it becomes that much more amazing and you never want to have it any other way. As someone at the table mentioned, "Marie Calanders, eat your heart out".

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, with lots of food and family and hopefully too much food and family. We also hope that enough of you survived Back Friday that we still have readers!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Savory Sausage Bread Pudding

It dawned on Eric yesterday that November is here and that means Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Yup, it took him until the 20th to figure that out. A month of 70 - 80 degree days here in the Bay Area can do that to you but this past weekend November came back with a vengeance. Cold, blustery and full of rain it was the perfect kind of weather to build a nice big fire (in the fireplace of course!) and cook up some warm filling food. From the looks of things, this is going to be a trend for the next few months as winter rolls in. So we spent the day doing projects and getting ready to fire up something that could keep us warm even when Eric refuses to turn on the heat. What better to keep you full and warm than a big savory bread pudding with sausage? Not much. Eric's not always the biggest fan of bread pudding but this one sent him back for thirds. All the flavors just come together in a mouthful that hearty and warming. The texture and flavors together reminded us of our honeymoon in England. English food gets panned here in America but the pubs over there are renown for the English version of down home cooking. Shepard's pie and Sticky Toffee Pudding with that dark English ale somehow brought us across the pond and into Grandma's kitchen while she cooked up something hearty and delicious. For us the flavors and textures of this pudding brought us all the way back to London. When the bowls were empty and Eric was off doing dishes Charisse was tied up keeping the cat warm on the sofa enjoying the dying fire and watching a movie and November settled in for the long haul.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Roasted Fig and Goat Cheese Raviolis A Simple Sage Sauce

We were in Costco the other day and ran across a display of all the cartoons we grew up with, packaged in wonderful DVD boxed sets. Helloooo Loony Toons, good bye paycheck. We hit that point where we've started talking about getting some offspring and what we want them to watch on TV comes up every now and again, especially when channel surfing lands us on some kids network. Every conversation tends to center around how much better TV was when we were kids (the answer is "much") and how awful kids TV is now. So coming across these boxed sets really made our day and restored hope in the future of humanity or something like that. What does this have to do with our post? Absolution nothing, but it must have been pretty funny to see grown adults getting excited over kids shows in the middle of Costco. This post more centers around the fig tree in our backyard and the comedy of errors that produced these raviolis. So of the multitude of trees that we've been able to bring back to life here since we've moved in include now 2 Fig trees which both produced fruit this year. We were pretty excited about that, not as excited as we were about the nectarine tree but still pretty excited. When the first crop came, they were horrid and we were pretty disappointed but have heard that its pretty normal for the first crop to be a rough one for figs. Around the same time we were given some figs from someone and Charisse got crafty in the kitchen. After our Christmas Ravioli disaster of 2009 Charisse dove into a rav making fever and really nailed down a solid method of putting them together. We've found that using a hand press was the best way and this was the perfect excuse to use it. Pulling together basically stuff we had in the kitchen, we did a goat and ricotta cheese base with the chopped roasted figs. The flavors were wonderful. Everything you love about both types of cheese accented with sweet fig. The only thing we'd change next time is the texture. It needed a little something that separates the texture of the cheese from the texture of the ravioli dough. What that is we don't know, maybe you do?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mulled Apple Cider

It was a cold November night, fall was all around. Halloween was placed in boxes and gently packed away awaiting next October's frights while Thanksgiving was peaking out its head. The splendor of orange and yellow and rustic red around the house mirrored the blasts of color and heat cast out from the fireplace. The leaves outside the big picture window had started to change with bright bursts of color being whipped around by the cold November wind. And Charisse was snuggled up on the couch straining to hear her favorite Seinfeld show over the banging and cursing and carrying on that was Eric on his own in the kitchen. Yup, things were pretty much normal. You see Charisse actually had a touch of a cold, so Eric decided to whip up some hot mulled apple cider which would fit the night. Unfortunately, Eric decided to do it his way and in the kitchen that doesn't always work. Actually, he followed the steps pretty faithfully, but neglected the difference between "finely diced" and "Pureed". He also bought the cheap cheesecloth from Safeway and so was ending up with more of a mulled apple sauce than a cider. It was one of those moments when he realized we had Charisse's juicer around and that a juicer would be much better than trying to squeeze apples through a fine mesh strainer. We have the Waring one and it is a beast. Eric had gotten through about half the apples when he switched to the juicer, which pulled the same amount of juice from the "done" apples as Eric had done the hard way, then pulled all the juice from the rest all in about 2 minutes. Next time, were going all juicer all the way. Anyways, once we got the juice thing figured out, we pulled the cider together and it really was just what the evening needed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake With Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream

Sometimes its possible to have too much of a good thing. You'll know you've reached that point when theres none left. Thats how it is around here every fall; pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin. Charisse is actually quite mad for pumpkin and looks forward to this time of year all summer (at least when she's not trying to get away with humming Christmas carols in July). We generally stock up on enough canned pumpkin products to last us through the summer. In reality they last until about May. We're especially fond of our friend Jen when she whips up her famous pumpkin pie bars while we watch the Sharks. Maybe if everyone asks, she'll share her recipe with you all this year, its probably the best thing you can serve in a baking pan. This post though is the story of our pumpkin cake which we made for the Halloween dinner party at Charisse's parents house. Every Halloween they have a big dinner party full of eating and drinking and being spooky and its become a tradition to wander down to the little fair the church on the corner puts on every year. This year Charisse won herself a goldfish which we promptly had to carry around all night in a little plastic baggy. The temptation to reenact the scene from "Finding Nemo" was huge, but never safe for the little fish. Anyways, we were in charge of bringing a dessert and pumpkin was obviously on the brain. We started our planing  thinking about a pumpkin pie, but someone else was already bringing one. About that time Charisse came across some cake sprinkles shaped like fall leaves and decided right then and there that we would bring a cake. With cinnamon and ginger added to the pumpkin this cake came out amazingly moist and delicious but the real kicker, the thing that made it a cake to remember was the frosting. We learned our lesson from the "cup" cake incident so Charisse pulled this pumpkiney delight together with a brilliant cinnamon and brown sugar buttercream icing, which instantly became Eric's favorite icing ever. Keeping him off the cake before it even left the house was nearly impossible. Stopping everyone from diving into it before we could actually photograph a slice? Impossible. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Foodbuzz Blogger Festival

So we spent last weekend in San Francisco attending the Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival, 3 days of eating, drinking, meeting fellow food bloggers and eating. It was downright exhausting but definitely worth going. For those readers unfamiliar with foodbuzz or the festival, you can check out the info page here. We got there on Friday afternoon and after checking into a hotel a few blocks from our old apartment we headed into Union Square to catch the festival buses heading to Fort Mason for the first event, the Street Food Fare. This event was in a giant warehouse and consisted of some of the better street foods of the city along with a handful of other select vendors. We fell in love with Mission Minis and got to talk to the owner Brandon who's got some sort of show coming up that they were filming for. Yay for TV time! We're not sure it when it is airing, but it'll either be on the food network or that new cooking network and hopefully they'll use our interview in it. Check out the cupcake pictures after the brake and join us in a "Yum" for how crazy tasty they are, then hit the mission on your next trip to The City. It is here too that Eric, who does most of our photography got a huge dose of reality. While we've built ourselves a very consistent easy to adjust photostudio in the kitchen, shooting food in the wild is hard. Wildly bouncing and inconsistent light, crazy shadows and trying to get a good shot of the plate your holding without spilling your wine makes for generally lousy pictures. He actually spent a good deal of time ogling all the lenses strutting about the place. Charisse was a little nervous about heading out to meet all these random strangers but pretty soon realized that she actually knew quite a few people from Foodbuzz. It was great getting recognized when we did and meeting the people behind the blog. Because we made a decision to keep people out of the blog as much as possible, people didn't recognize us on sight the same way they might recognize someone like Chef Dennis (one of our favorite bloggers out there, and a heck of a decent guy). We had a handful of breakout sessions on Saturday morning (little workshops) and hit the Tasting Pavilion in the mid afternoon for more eating. Saturday night was the Gala Dinner, quite the splendid meal put on by Foodbuzz. We had a great time sitting with a group of bloggers from the East Coast as Eric had hit it off with Jeff of High/Low Food/Drink. Sunday was a farewell brunch and everyone was looking a little worse for wear. They had some of the best applewood bacon and we didn't think about taking a picture of any of the food until we were pretty much fed. So that was our weekend in a very very small nutshell, no cooking to be had, but lots of shwag, new friends and great memories. Thanks again Foodbuzz!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Deep Dish Pizza Of Our Dreams

We're not huge fans of Chicago style deep dish pizza. The belief is strong in our family that pizza is something that should be eaten with your hands. Actually thats a lie, we like any pizza that tastes good. The biggest issue we have with the Chicago style is having the sauce on top, its just messy and you loose so much of its flavor. We decided to bury the sauce in a few places under some cheese which kept the slice together better. Still needed a knife and fork though. We had Jen of "Dan and Jen" helping out this time around and are looking forward to having them over to make Christmas Candy in a few short weeks. In case you haven't noticed we see a lot of each other on the weekends, especially when its cooking time which stems from Eric and Dan living next door to each other since elementary school. That Jen and Charisse have become such fast friends these last few years has been an added bonus and has kept our families close which has really helped shape our cooking style. See Jen is from The South. That's "The South" with a capitol T and a capitol S. We like to give her a hard time about it, the rest of us being native to San Jose but Jen assures us that they had running water, shoes and paved roads growing up. We don't necessarily believe her but we do know that where she's from they taught her how to spell the state of Mississippi forwards and backwards and when you get right down to it they can cook. There is not a meal that goes by involving the four of us that doesn't bring on a major food coma and for that we forgive the stories where locals went hunting with their raffles

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sweet Potato Pie with Toasted Marshmallow Meringue

Charisse's Arkansas trip worked out really well for the holiday season because she came back with this idea for a sweet potato pie. Sweet potato? In a pie? Eric was skeptical, especially when it the bag of marshmallows came out for the topping. Eric was wrong to be skeptical, very wrong. As it turned out, in addition to all the yummy fried food and other interesting dishes they have in Arkansas (we'll have to do Arkansas Sloppy Joes one  day...) they also have pie. Wonderful glorious pie. Charisse thinks they should change their slogan from "The Natural State" to "The Pie State". She had pie of every kind imaginable; apple pie, pumpkin pie, Frito pie. Frito pie? Yup. Pie made with all natural organic Fritos. Okay, so maybe we're exaggerating, Fritos are not organic nor are they all natural but hey, close enough for government work. Anyways, Charisse put this pie together based on her experiences there, and it really blew our minds. It looks like pumpkin pie, it even smells like it. Its got the same consistency and color, but the taste is wildly different. Its a surprise in your mouth... the good kind! But what REALLY made this stand out was the Meringue. It is like eating the marshmallows out of a fresh smore and has become the new must have for our fall pies. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

While Charisse was in Arkansas we both ended up having soup on the same night. We all saw how Eric's turned out while Charisse on the other hand was eating out at a Mennonite restaurant in Gentry and enjoying a baked potato soup. We were talking later that night over Skype and Eric learned two things: Mennonites are people and therefore not edible and baked potato soup is the best thing since the baked potato. Actually, he learned 3 things that night, the third being that canned low sodium soup tastes terrible. Especially if its past its expiration date by a year and a half. So when Charisse came back this was near the top of the southern-cooking-to-die-for-and-may-actually-kill-you-too list and was promptly cooked up for lunch on the first really cold October day. It was actually a great Sunday afternoon food, it really fit our day. We've been having some really unseasonably warm weather this October with temperatures in the 90's for a while so to have this sudden cold snap really kicked up our holiday season anticipation as it finally feels like Fall is here and Winter is coming. We built our first fire of the season and lounged around all day watching movies and eating hearty southern food. since then we've decided that more exercise is needed and will probably be making more... healthy food but that wasn't on our minds at the time. What was on our minds was this soup. It really is like a liquid baked potato. Or more like a twice baked potato in liquid form. We topped it with chopped green onions cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon, but any baked potato toppings would work. So with winter well on its way you should take a day off to hunker down with this soup and just be full.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Southern Spiced Fried Chicken

So Charisse came back from Arkansas last week and saved us all from Eric's Kraft Mac and Cheese from a box recipe (we should all praise the food gods for that). In fact, foodies@home almost came to an end when she walked in the door and announced "I am so full, I am never ever ever eating anything ever again". Thankfully that was a short lived sentiment and it was right back to business this weekend. One slight change in her was a strong desire to show off her newfound southern roots. Those roots are newfound because she is a 3rd or 4th generation Californian. Go figure. We talked a little bit about what southern inspired dishes we should try first and decided on (cue the banjos) Fried Chicken. According to Charisse the Arkansas family all agreed that cooking doesn't get any more Arkansas than sticking some battered chicken in a deep fryer, and we were happy to try our hand at it! 
We fried up some good old fashioned chicken breasts that we happened to have in the freezer, the boneless and skinless kind but this definitely could have been done with a dark cut, or a bone in skin on breast. We also did a single pass through on the egg wash and dredge, but a second time through would have added a lot of crunchiness to each bite. Even without the second pass the chicken was perfectly tender and very flavorful. One of the big benefits to deep frying is how moist the chicken comes out, as the hot oil basically cauterizes the outside and traps all the moisture in the meat. Its a dish that makes even your most well behaved friends go "MMmmmmmom nom nom nom. Is there more?!" Not that we have any well behaved friends mind you, so we really wouldn't know what those say. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

Welcome to the second of three posts dealing with Charisse's family vacation in Arkansas, leaving Eric to fend for himself. So far, he's still alive and so are the animals. Trust me, that's a good sign. This time of year in California the weather has started to turn colder which is always exciting because that means the Holidays are just around the corner. It also means its time for hot foods to make a comeback and what better than some chicken noodle soup to kick off the winter cooking season? It turns out that chicken noodle is also the perfect choice when it is the only canned soup in the house. It is also the same can I bought for Charisse the last time she wasn't feeling well. Guys, even if she doesn't use it, still a good call to bring one home. Now heres the really important part, when cooking canned soup, take the wrapper off first or it might catch on fire!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Frozen Pizza

This week's posts are dedicated to the married American Male when left alone for a period of time. Charisse has gone to Arkansas to visit family, and left me, Eric all alone for a week. I've decided to document what happens when even the most devoted foodie is left alone to fend for himself. The results? 

Not good. 

So this was a vacation that was on the books for over a year and was supposed to include the both of us but I couldn't make due to my new job. No vacation time is tough. Thankfully I got a lot of invites from our friends, so most of the time I wasn't at work, I was enjoying the cooking prowess of our friends and family but that left a few nights where I had to fend for myself, so I've decided to share that with you. 
The first night after Charisse left, my good friend Greg came over and we had a small feast, frozen pizza and beer. The rubbery crust and super hot cheese that leaves the roof of your mouth burned is a true throwback to the college days. I knew this would be a tough week for cooking when Greg tossed a handful of chips on the pizza before it went into the oven. I pulled out some of my old tricks from college, so if any guys out there are ever left to fend for yourselves, take heed. Firstly, check the bottom of the pizza before you pull it out, sometimes the the cheese browns before the crust is done. If the this happens regularly, you've got the heat up too high. Also, to save on dishes, most frozen pizzas come with a cardboard box and cardboard base. This makes a perfect, free disposable plate. So far, surviving. Coming up... I tackle soup out of the can. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chicken with Herbed Dumplings

Well, we didn't make it past the Fancy Dinner party in the Foodbuzz competition so we took a little break (nothing like take out Chinese Food to soothe the soul of defeat). THANK YOU all so much for your support though this contest and hopefully you'll all keep reading! 
Now that we're ready to get back on track, Charisse has taken off on a family vacation to Arkansas (pronounced Ark-en-saw - apparently it is offensive to call it Ark-Kansas or Ark an sauce =P) leaving Eric home alone for a week, so the next few posts will be me going solo. Since cooking for one is never fun, I've pulled out the old college cook book and will be showing everyone how the typical American Male survives when left alone for an extended period of time. You've been warned. 

Charisse's imminent departure meant we worked hard to spend as much time together and prepared a very home style dinner to celebrate our return to non-contest normalcy. It doesn't get much more home style than chicken and dumplings, especially when a cold snap rolls in. Warm gooey dumplings and chicken were a great use of our newest cast iron pan, and the iron adds just that little extra to everything we cook in it. We actually heard a report that eating food cooked in cast iron is really good for women, because it adds iron to the food. Yet another reason we love our iron. The soup coming out of this is really thick and flavorful, so be prepared to have some bread on the table and a lack of judging when someone gets caught licking the bowl.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Salmon Hash with Poached Eggs

Mmmm Breakfast. What an overlooked, but truly outstanding meal. They say Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Were not sure who "they" are but they do tend to be right. Theres something about having a big filling breakfast thats like filling the gas tank before a big road trip. Cruising past pit stops and snack bars knowing you don't need to stop... okay that analogy is just not working, but you get the point. Weekday breakfast is all too often sadly uneventful. Theres no such thing as happy breakfast hour or breakfast meetings. Nobody does a power breakfast. In today's world breakfast seems to either get woofed down on the drive into work or skipped entirely which is a real shame because some of the worlds best food is for breakfast. When we lived in San Francisco, the big thing to do was Sunday breakfast. We're talking everyone in town went out for breakfast on Sundays. You could tell the best spots by how long the lines were, and when you got through the line (even if was almost lunchtime) you knew you had some great food to look forward to. The other weekend we wanted to try our hands at Sunday Breakfast, and with lots of leftover fish, we invited some people over and whipped up a Salmon hash. Charisse even tried her hand at poached eggs, which taste great, but are super easy to screw up. Theres just something about watching an egg basically dissolve in water that makes you go "eeeewwwww". The eww generally produces laughs from everyone else, so its fun to do at parties! This one is super easy to do (except for the eggs which are optional anyways) and its really filling. It is just the sort of thing that helps take the edge off after a long night out and is a great way to start off your Sunday (Eric says you can't watch football on an empty stomach!).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vote for us on Foodbuzz!

Voting is open now through Thursday! Help us get through to the next round!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bacon on the Menu (Eric's 28th Birthday Dinner Party)

 It was a week ago and we were planing out what we would cook for round 3 of the Project Food Blog contest and Charisse had just asked what Eric's favorite ingredient was. This was followed by an impassioned argument that pepperoni pizza was not an ingredient but a meal into it's own and not suitable for a "luxury"dinner party. We were trying to set a menu for the evening (part of the challenge) and wanted all the courses to be tied together somehow. Usually when we go out to eat there's no cohesion in the menu, no flow between courses, its just 3 or 4 different dishes that we happen to like. Its a meal simply because all the plates happen to land on our table. When Foodbuzz announced this challenge we knew we wanted all of our courses tied together somehow and the idea of a common ingredient felt like a good creative way to do that. With pizza off the table we were still bouncing ideas around when Eric, staying true to form suggested bacon. It was all "haha, very funny" at first, but the idea really stuck. It was Eric's birthday after all, so after some serious head scratching we decided that  bacon could and should adventure  outside of the breakfast griddle. By Wednesday we had a menu of 3 courses, a dessert and a signature drink, all involving bacon in some way.
On Thursday after work we got in the little Nissan Versa and headed to Costco, always a dangerous thing. Way too much money and a very full little car later we were in the kitchen preparing for the next day. One thing we've learned over the years is Eric has no time management skills. Actually Eric knew this already but Charisse had to figure this out over many instances of: "You said this would take 20 minutes and its been 5 hours!". Needless to say with multiple courses like this, Charisse claims the kitchen as her own. A key thing for us when we produce something like this menu is the preplanning. Charisse will figure out how long each course will take to cook and time out when she needs to have them done by. We also will pre-cook as much as possible the night before. Anything that can be made ahead of time and reheated or just thrown in the oven to start cooking must get done the day before. We spent about 4 hours Thursday night pre-cooking and prepping (chopping, slicing etc) everything so on Friday there was very little work to be done. That meant that we all socialized more and felt like we were part of the party, not part of the hired help.
Since it was Eric's birthday, we figured it was only fitting to have both of our parents over for a birthday dinner party. When everyone arrived Eric started pouring our signature Candied Bacon Martinis, a drink for any guest with a sweet tooth.  A signature cocktail is a great way to start the evening and set the mood and theme for any party, plus it's a great way to save a little dough on liquor. Knowing exactly what you need, instead of guessing what your guests will be asking for. With Amaretto, maple syrup and Applejack brandy this drink is like liquid candy for grownups and Charisse's Dad loved it. When Pat was done licking the bottom of his glass, we pulled out the first course which featured one of the best things we've ever tasted: Bourbon Bacon Marmalade. Although it took 2 pounds of bacon and over three hours to make, it was totally worth the work. We served it on a sweet potato cake topped with grilled prawns, and it a dream come true. Seriously, we could have ended the dinner with this course and our guests wouldn't have know the difference. But we had to resist seconds and move on to the next course of the evening our Leek Shooters with Bacon Essence. They were creamy and tasted almost like we'd smoked the leeks, a trick we use in the kitchen often. It is amazing what a little rendered bacon fat can do for an ordinary dish.  Our main course was an individual serving of Cornish Game Hen with Apple Bacon Stuffing for each guest. Again our secret ingredient (bacon fat) made its appearance as a smokey back flavor that turned the skins of the hen into a crispy golden brown delight. And of course we couldn't have a birthday celebration with out a fantastic dessert fit for birthday boy! All of his favorite things were incorporated into the hit of the evening. A molten chocolate stout cake topped with a Bacon Creme Anglaise and Pig Candy.
After the guests had eaten and Eric opened his gifts we all decided it was time to loosen our belts by a few notches and Charisse admitted that she was a bit worried about how the meal was going to turn out, but was pleasantly surprised with the results. Everyone agreed that when they read the menu, Bacon Martinis? Bacon Creme Anglaise? They were a little concerned themselves, but wanted to be adventurous and try new things and boy were they satisfied. Now if only we had a secret on how to get the kitchen clean after a dinner party!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


We've got internet again! Look for more regular postings! Also, don't forget to vote for us!! Vote here!

Monday, September 27, 2010

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lilikoi Kālua Pork Sliders with Pineapple BBQ Sauce

Mahalo no kou heluhelu ʻana mai i kēia puke. Okay, so technically that says "Thank you for reading this book", and this is a blog but Eric ever learned the word for "blog", and we figured that this was close enough. Last night we put together the second entry in our Foodbuzz Project Food Blog Challenge. This time around were tasked with tackling a foreign classic, something outside of our comfort zone. We were kicking around ideas on what culture we could tackle and what kind of dish we wanted to prepare and promptly hit some major problems. We were starting to get really frustrated when Eric announced that we would just cook a traditional Hawaiian breakfast. This was meant as a joke because the traditional breakfast in Hawai'i is very basic and involves fried SPAM, something Charisse is just not a fan of. While Eric's Hawaiian breakfast idea didn't fly, it did get us thinking about other Hawaiian foods. It seemed like it would be too easy for us though, since Eric went to college there but lets face it, frozen pizza and Top Ramen is no cuisine (it turns out that college food is truly universal). We kicked around different kinds of dishes that are native to the islands, and found that about half of them involve SPAM, but hit on a few possibilities, one being Kālua pork and the very mention of it set Eric salivating. This is the Luau pork, traditionally cooked by digging a big hole in the ground, having a nice fire then burying a whole pig in there for a few hours. Eric ran and got the shovel and Charisse,  the voice of reason, reminded him that burning the neighborhood down is not the best way to make friends, so we used a more practical approach, our oven.  
One of the things that gives the Kālua pork such a unique flavor is the Alaea salt. This is a large grain sea salt that is drawn from the red clay native to the islands. This clay is a huge source of various minerals and adds a real earthy tone. To sweeten the meat we wrapped it in a large banana leaf which added more flavor and helped retain the pork's moisture (the leafs actually added way more moisture than the meat had to start with, a huge plus). Banana leaf? Alaea salt? Not going to find these at Safeway, at least not one in San Jose. We ended up going to three different Asian markets trying to track everything down and that was an adventure in and of itself. The trip took us almost 3 hours, and practically drove Charisse nuts. Okay, the part that drove Charisse nuts wasn't the fact that we couldn't read any of the packaging nor was it the fact that we really stood out, but Eric's complete in-ability to focus on the task at hand. He wanted to stop and look at everything and half the time was to excited to remember what it was he was looking for. We also picked up what we needed for the Lilikoi BBQ sauce and Pineapple slaw. 
 We enjoyed the smell of roasting pig for over 3 hours, and we should have opened it in a pan because a river a juice hit the floor, something we're not used too with meat! We were pretty worried that we'd screwed up and ruined the pork, but when we pulled a piece off, we knew we had a winner. This pork is sweet and earthy, like nothing else we've ever had. The banana leaves impart just enough sweetness and the salt brings that sense of Hawai'i style earthiness, which is something you'll get if you've ever been there, if you haven't been there, its the off season now, so flights are cheap! We tossed the pork in a Lilikoi Pinapple BBQ sauce and topped it with a Pineapple coleslaw on a taro sweet roll (also at the Asian market). This was the closest we've gotten to tasting Hawai'i since we were there last, and if you've never been there, this is what your missing! 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Round 2!

Thanks everyone for your support of foodies@home's first entry in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog Challenge, We made it to round 2! Be on the lookout for a rare weekend blog post and don't forget round two voting opens bright and early Monday Morning!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Marbled Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bundt Cake With Salted Caramel Glaze

Every time we use the bundt pan, there is a period of at least 5 minutes where the only thing heard in our kitchen is laughter and that stuttering "it's a bundt" "a butt?" "a bundt!" "a bunk?" "A BUNDT!" "Ahh, its a cake" conversation from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. You'd thank that after all this time, 8 years, that the joke would have lost its edge. Nope, we still make it and we still laugh. Its amazing what being in a good mood can do for your sense of humor, the better the mood, the easier the laughs. Why it takes two college educated grownups to figure out what any 4 year old could tell you we'll never know, but its still as true as can be. Its also true that good food can change your whole mood too. In this case, we did this cake on a day particularly in need of a better mood: bill paying day. Bill paying day is a very dangerous day around our parts as the bank accounts go from being full of newly cashed paychecks to being decidedly less full. I think everyone can attest to that being a big wet blanket on any given day. Sometimes the fates work out and we have people over for dinner on bill paying day, which often adds a big grocery bill on top of everything else. The secret to fixing bill day is something that every woman already knows and every guy (including Eric) refuses to admit is that chocolate always makes things better. (Eric says "its because eating anything raises endorphin levels as the body. Endorphins are the bodies way of rewarding any species for acts that encourage survival and reproduction". Chraisse said that was dumb, and chocolate tastes so good because its chocoalate. And that was the end of that argument). This particular chocolate was indeed in the form of a bundt cake, marbled with peanut butter and covered in a homemade, salted caramel glaze and definitely made bill paying day better.

Last day to vote for us!

Hey everyone! Today is the last day to vote for us in the first round of the Foodbuzz challenge! Hit the link below and give us your vote!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beer Braised Chicken Tacos

This whole "end of summer" thing is really starting to get to us. Last weekend we had Dan and Jen over for a creative tacos and a movie night that had us eating long after dark. As the movie ended we went through that whole kinda lazy it-was-great-to-have-you-over routine and checked the time to see just how late it was. We all had things we wanted to do the next morning so we looked, wondering would it be 11:30? 12:30? 1? We hadn't been keeping track, but with such a late dinner it had to have been at least 2am. Strange that all of our watches agreed that it was only 8:30. 8:30?! We couldn't believe it, the sun had been down for so long already, it seemed like it should be significantly later than it was. Seems like the Earths tilt is at it again, making for a very surreal night. In an attempt to make the best of it, Eric and Dan promptly declared video game time and launched into a focused battled of virtual hockey. Charisse and Jen declared them "silly boys" and went to the back room to talk and watch TV. Many hockey games and one long conversation later it was actually 12:30 and we all said our good-byes for real and retired to let dinner finish digesting, and what a dinner it had been. See, we're huge taco fans in general and Eric's been working on putting together his own taco seasoning for when we occasionally get caught without our trusty Costco mix. We were looking around for ideas on what to make and came across a nice braised chicken and thought this might be a winner. Now if Julia Child had been from Latin America, her famous beef bourguignon might have ended up looking like this instead. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Whole Roast Salmon With a Lemon Glaze

Last weekend we wanted to sit down and prepare a really nice meal as an entry for the upcoming blogging competition. Eric went to Lowes first thing in the morning then we both went to Costco, looking for something to cook. We got home around noon with this perfect whole wild caught Alaskan salmon, invited some friends over and put together and planned a whole day of cleaning, working on the house (new screen door) and cooking (and eating!). Seven hours later, the house was not any cleaner, the front door was taken all apart and pretty much everyone was grumpy. The night looked like it had hopped on the fast lane of the Highway to Disaster. And it was speeding.  Then the salmon came out of the oven and the smell of perfectly cooked fish seasoned with lemon and thyme turned the tide.

That night we sat down around the table with the door held closed by the cat scratcher since Eric hadn’t put the door knobs back in yet and enjoyed a family style meal that washed away the day’s frustrations bite by bite. Charisse lead us in a toast and we sat around the table laughing and talking long after the last bite had been taken. We laughed about all the problems with the door and compared Eric’s performance to the Dad in the Christmas Story movie fixing the furnace. We joked about being married, teased about growing up and the wives heckled their husbands for how much fish they left behind. We packed up the leftovers, Eric and his friends finished the door in much higher spirits while the Charisse and the girls talked and watched a movie. When the night was done, we all parted ways happier and fuller.

A little later on, after the door was put back together the two of us sat down and talked about why we were doing this blog and decided that this meal was the perfect example. For us, doing this blog is not only about sharing our experiences in the kitchen with all of you but also about growing closer together while doing it. We actually started this blog as a way for Charisse to express herself in another medium. She’s a painter and artist by trade and brings that artist’s mind to her cooking. Charisse not only has that rare ability to look at a dish and see in her head how it could be made but also the ability to look at a bunch or random things, and come up with combinations that she knows will taste good. It’s the same thing that makes her such a good artist; that ability to know what colors go together and know how to make the brush flow across the canvas just right. It’s also been known to drive Eric nuts as he’s very much left brained when it comes to things like that, mostly precise and analytical. He can tell you how things should be put together, but Charisse can tell you why. This is probably one of the reasons we work so well together, we think about things completely differently and tend to drift to different parts of the same task. As Charisse puts it; “Eric builds it, I make it pretty”. That’s how we approach the blog too, it’s not either of ours it’s both of ours, it’s something we do together, and it helps bring us closer together too.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

There are 3 major new things Eric loves to get. New hockey sticks. New socks. New cookies. Actually thats a lie. Eric's favorite cookie is chocolate chip. Period. Used to be sugar when he was growing up, but now, chocolate chip, every time. He also favorites mint chocolate chip ice cream, pepperoni pizza and a double cheeseburger. Ask anyone who's gone out for food with him, and you'll find that he likes what he likes, and doesn't see any reason to go with something he likes less just to conform (even if that means he gets to be the butt of half the lunch time jokes). Then along came Charisse and Eric's ordering went from "I'll eat what I've always liked, because I like it" to "You'll eat whats for dinner because your too darn picky, and you'll like it because I told you too". Hello marriage.

Eric couldn't be happier to have Charisse pushing him out of his "normal" zone, which in retrospect was rarely normal, and most often just plain weird. Except for Salami wrapped around cream cheese. An excellent, easy to prepare appetizer introduced to him by his sister Elaine. Devilishly simple, really good tasting as long as you like both salami and cream cheese. But this is not what Charisse used to pick up his spirits after his team got knocked out of the playoffs early. Oh no, Charisse put together one of the best comfort desserts ever made. Ever. This dessert combines Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brownies and Chocolate Ganache. It is literally the end of any diet known to man (or woman). Imagine, biting into the moistest chocolate chip cookie, feeling the chocolate chips melt on contact while the cookie dissolves into pure goodness between bites. This is washing down a brownie, fresh out of that pan that puts an edge on every piece, the flavor pushing through   with every crunching chomp. You better have a glass of milk nearby to wash down the chocolate ganache that coats the roof of your mouth with pure molten chocolate. Can you tell we're missing these already?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Brown Sugar Pancakes with Grape Syrup

Everyone I've ever known has weeds growing on the side of their house. Even the people who decorate their side yards with concrete have weeds there. There's something about the side of a house that makes it really under valued, and under appreciated. It's not the front of the house so it doesn't warrant the careful maintenance and attention to detail as the front yard. Its also usually not big enough for entertaining so it doesn't get all the fun add-ons that the backyard gets (who's ever been to a pool party or BBQ in someone's side yard)? Nope, me neither. The side yard has the unfortunate and unloved task of being regulated to a storage facility, or at best a glorified hallway. If it gets any grass at all, it was probably put there to make it easier to get the lawn mower from the back to the front or party guests from the front to the back. And right there, against the house are probably some weeds. You know the kind, the ones too close for the lawnmower to get, big enough to be a major eye sore but going totally unnoticed to anyone but you because everyone else is focused on getting to the punchbowl next to the BBQ on the other side of the pool. Now most of you know the weeds we're talking about. The rest of you probably just ran outside to go look. We'll wait.

Any time now.

Okay great your back! So yes, we found one of these weeds the first summer we were in our house. The thing had become a bit of a monster, sprouting up like a vine with nice big leaves after a particularly wet spring. We were assessing all the weird things that had grown up all around our house while we hunkered down inside, staying dry and warm. So while hacking through the jungle of weeds and strange plants we came across this fellow and Eric went to get his patented, fool proof way of digging up big roots (his axe). While he was rummaging in the garage, Charisse was on the phone with her mom because the plant seemed to look decidedly un-weed like. By the time Eric got back, Charisse was giddy and sitting there petting the weed. "Thats no weed" she said, "thats a grape vine"! Thats right, we have a grapevine growing on the side yard. Who knew? Well last year the grapes didn't make it (see related topic: things the dog ate) but this year, the dog was a bit older and we were a lot more attentive (and the grapes grew up higher) and we ended up with 10 lbs of grapes. In case you are wondering, thats a lot of grapes. After all the projects (and snacking) we ended up with a small pile last weekend around breakfast time, and decided to throw an impromptu morning in. Charisse pulled out a recipe she's been itching to try and grabbed her new cookbook (all about jams, jellies, syrups and other stuff like that) and put together Eric's new favorite pancake a brown sugar pancake with grape syrup. Less than an hour later we set our plates down over a new purple stain that we're sure will come out someday and dug in.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sole Meuniere

They took everything, including the kitchen sink. What a fun metaphor the whole "kitchen sink" thing is, and for the second time this year, us foodies are without a kitchen. Or at least without a kitchen sink, because we're getting new counter tops! This has been something we've been looking forward to for a while, dating all the way back to... oh say the day we moved in. Up till last Tuesday we've had the original, pale yellow with pale rustic orange vintage 1950 tile and grout counters. These counters had a great 62 year run, but lets face it, times have changed and those tiles have been here long past their expiration date. Charisse and her mom (the decorating queens of the family) have been out scouring supply stores for months, trying to find the right tiles, the best granite and the perfect design. They figured it all out last weekend and just like that we had some guys in the house, ripping the tile backsplash from the walls, prying up the tile counters and hauling away you guessed it, the kitchen sink. In its place we've been left with plywood, and a half disassembled faucet. What parts are disassembled? Who knows, but when Eric went to fill up a glass of water, the water hit the ceiling. Somethings missing. Through all of this, we of course have been stretching the few dishes we haven't posted yet as far as possible while surviving on take-out and pizza. Go us. On the other hand, theres always the Sole. Sole Meuniere that is!

Sole Meuniere is a special dish for us for two reasons, 1. It was Julia Child's first dish in Paris, something that she's described as her first culinary revelation. Obviously it was the first of many, but to all the other foodies out there, America's graduation from "Standard" cooking and all the culinary delights and innovations that have sprung up since the 50's started right there with that plate. 2. It was also the first dish Charisse had when we went to Paris on our honeymoon (which two years ago was wrapping up right about .... now). So when we decided to make this as the main course of our anniversary meal it carried a lot of weight, no bones about it. Get it? No bones? Its a fillet. Now we all know why Eric isn't allowed to do the humor portion of this blog. In all seriousness, this is such a simple, easy dish, fish coated in flower and pan fried in butter, but the depth of flavor brought out from the fish is amazing. Try it out and let the Sole melt in your mouth.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lemon Polenta Cake with Pouring Cream

Nothing goes better with cake than new toys. Right. What? It turns out Eric is obsessed with finding reasons to by new toys. Tools, gadgets, gizmos, every project or endeavor seems to need just one more. Want to put new floors in? Have to buy a nail gun. Fix the fence, need a new saw. Fix the other fence, gotta go get a different saw. Start a food blog? Must get a new camera, new lens, new flash, new tripod, new computer, another new camera, one more lens... and you get the picture. Sometimes the new toy tool costs more than the rest of the project but ends up in the cart because it has to. This is exactly the kind of thing that puts a real gleam in Eric's eye whenever theres a new project or something gets broken, which is exactly what happened to our camera flash last week. We were getting ready to start shooting this Polenta cake when the camera took a tumble and the flash when flying into about thirty six million different pieces.  While bits where still flying around the room was online looking for a replacement, as a broken gadget meant it was time to upgrade to something bigger, faster and better.
It was during the week or so we spent waiting for the replacement that we came to realize how much of a difference the flash really made. We like to get action shots, liquids getting poured, batter getting beaten, sliced things getting... sliced. The additional flash really actively freezes the action, giving a super clear picture in great focus, something the built in flash just can't do. When Eric was processing this weeks pictures there was a clear level of frustration as many of the shots we consider our staple "bread and butter" photographs were blurred or the action was not quite frozen. Even though we were pretty disappointed about how the pictures came out, the cake did its part and made the day. Yet another use for lemons (fast becoming the 2nd most used ingredient here, behind butter) this cake was a tangy, textury wonderland for your mouth. We mixed our preserved lemons with a regular lemon for the flavor and the cornmeal give it a super unique texture. We're big food-texture people so when the two don't pair well, neither of us tends to like the dish. In this case the cornmeal really changes each bite, providing a different experience bite to bite.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Anniversary Scallops

Earlier this month we celebrated our second wedding anniversary with a dinner and some sparkling wine that Eric's parents dropped off. Eric likes to joke that we ran to Vegas and came home married, but in reality we spent a year planing it, and it was spectacularly fun. Fun was actually the key, we wanted everyone who came to really enjoy themselves something that doesn't always happen at weddings. It was pretty exciting to see everyone who came, about 100 of our closest friends and family on both sides. The Wynn Hotel, where we had the ceremony and reception was really good to us and we had 4 full days of fun. The hotel had a really pretty outdoor venue and the coordinator there was wonderful. The wedding is actually a topic that still comes up at dinner parties and BBQs, so much so that everyone keeps insisting that we get married again, but once was enough for us, unless someone else is paying this time! Even though we're not getting married again, we're still up for celebrating every chance we get! In addition to the dinner here, we're planning on heading out to Nick's on Main in Los Gatos, one of our favorite restaurants in the south bay. We've been waiting to do something with some Sol and Scallops we had in the freezer (and more of Monica's lemons) we managed to put together a very lemon themed dinner, and boy was it good. Try our "Anniversary Scallops" which are scallops and pancetta on a faux hollandaise and let us know what you're celebrating!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pork Loin with Brandy Peppercorn Sauce

This week, Eric celebrated his new job in Sunnyvale, which is a really big deal over here in Petruno land. When we lived in San Francisco, Eric's job was a solid 15 minute walk away. He had lots of opportunity ahead of him and things were good. Then, there was that whole "economy" thing, his start up became part of a bigger corporation, and we had the opportunity to get a house back down in San Jose. When we moved down the commute once measured in blocks (and not that many of them) was measured in miles. 55.9 to be exact and 15 minutes turned into 3+ hours a day. With the economy where it was, finding another job was in the "not gonna happen" box and so Eric commuted from 5:30am until 6:30pm 5 days a week. A few weeks ago, he was offered a new job in Sunnyvale and the rejoicing lasted nearly 2 weeks. Among the festivities was this pork loin, which turned out to be something we really need to make again. It also turned out to be not enough but that probably would have happened no matter how much we made of "The other white meat". Actually, Eric can't stand that slogan. The tagline that has doggedly followed pork around since 1987 not only wrongly labels the meat as "white meat" but it is giving it a good left handed complement. By implying that it is just an alternative for when your tired of the real thing, something that is just as good. Pork, for all intents and purposes is a moist, deliciously flavorful meat that at our house is a first choice come dinner. Eric would probably have it as first, second and third choices if he could have his way, but Charisse usually insists on other things on the plate besides meat. Go figure.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cheesy Zucchini Scone

Eric's been falsely accused of many things over the years like forgetting to pick up his clothes, forgetting to do the dishes or being too loud watching Sharks games. Being cheesy is not something he's ever been falsely accused of nor has he been falsely accused of being a big fan of cheese. In reality anything with the word "cheesy" in the title is something he will probably really enjoy. Hence he had 3 pieces of this giant scone, and enjoyed every last bite and was quite thankful to Charisse for getting the idea. Actually the thanks went to our neighbors, Bob and Nancy who grow a number of different things in their backyard garden. When we mentioned in the last post that Charisse's parents lemon tree puts out an amazingly large crop every year, we weren't thinking about what comes out of Bob and Nancy's garden. They have a simple little garden in the backyard, and when the apocalypse comes, were moving in with them, because they always have food growing. Lots and lots of GIANT foods. They are constantly dropping off baskets of tomatoes (or Bob's famous salsa made from those tomatoes), zucchini and any number of other veggies. There is nothing like cooking with really fresh veggies, they always taste better than store bought. Could be our imaginations, but I don't think so. Especially then they come from Bob and Nancy's, which always produces a huge crop, and sometimes huge veg. Our last present was a zucchini the size of a football, which provided more zucchini than we could every use normally. And while zucchini is one of our favorite veggies we can only cook so many meals in a week. After a few days, we had zucchini in pasta, zucchini on the side, zucchini leftovers for breakfast and half a dozen other things, and there was still half of it left. A lot of it when into this giant scone. The rest we had for breakfast the next day. And lunch. And dinner. For 2 more days.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Asparagus Salad with Fried Lemons

We're not usually huge fans of deep fried food. Baked, grilled and skillet cooked are our specialties but every now and again we come across something lifted out of fry oil that just screams EAT ME. Twinkies are not a part of this group. On the other hand, deep fried lemons? It sounded fun and now we've decided that from here on out these are a must eat. We came across this idea while we were figuring out what to do with the Farnsworths' bumper crop of lemons as their tree is a strange mutant that produces about 6.4 billion lemons each year. Not that having more lemons that you know what to do with is bad mind you, but you can only have so many lemon drops in a week. Ok, maybe you can have one more than that, but that still leaves more on the tree. We preserved some of these a while back and those are just starting to come ready (we hear they make for an excellent lemon drop). Anyways, with the Farnsworths coming over with more lemons, we wanted something different to go with dinner and hit across these fried lemons with asparagus salad from Food52 and decided to go for it. Monica loved these lemons. Something like a soft Lemonhead candy, but a little more tart. Eric and Pat thought they quite good but could only get through 1 or 2. Like mother like daughter Monica and Charisse made sure the rest didn't go to waste! 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sugar and Citrus Cured Tri-Tip

The top two questions we get asked at parties are 

"When can we come over for dinner?" (Whenever you want)


"So are you trying to be like that blogger from that Julie and Julia movie?" (No.) 

Its a really strange phenomenon though, its seems like everyone's seen that movie, but nobody seems to have read the blog (still readable here, or her new blog here). Not exactly the same thing (we don't swear... as much). These blogs are all about someone's life, but we decided early on that we wanted instead to share our food with everyone, hearing about all the goofy stuff that goes on in our lives is more a side, or gravy. Pick your own analogy. We strive to tell the story of how our dinners came to be or what the dish means to us (we love food so much it gets put in that same nostalgic place as childhood toys and Reading Rainbow). One of the blogs we've come across that really stuck us as a great blog is Cookie Loves Eating, from which we adapted our Sugar and Citrus Cured Tri-Tip. Hit the break for the recipe, then pop over and see what they've got going today! 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mint Glazed Carrots

Eric is a fan of mint. That is a pretty odd statement, but it is very very true. Mint (chocolate chip) ice cream, mint toothpaste (there are actually non mint flavors, he won't touch them), mint M&Ms, heck he even once ate a whole tin of Altoids in one day, simply because they tasted good. Looking back, he admitted that this was pretty gross but pointed out that he had amazingly fresh morning breath the next day.Anyways, when we hit across these carrots, glazed with mint, Eric was all for it. It also helped that this is a super easy way to spice up an otherwise normal side dish. Now don't get us wrong, normal is not bad its just that, normal. You've had it before and you'll probably have it again. We like it when every now and again we can take something so every-day and quickly and easily turn it into something that makes you go "wow". We use carrots pretty often in every day cooking often as an afterthought. They usually get picked with a discussion like this:

"We need something else besides just meat"
"How about carrots?"
"Oooh-kay, we'll just steam them in the microwave real quick".

Thats about how it goes with our sides most nights, something to fill out the food pyramid and take up space on the plate. With dinner together being the centerpiece of our nights, having the same thing over and over gets down right boring. It's probably that way with most families though, keeping food interesting is a big struggle, something that is probably a huge stumbling block for a lot of people when it comes to cooking.  Cooking dinner and having everyone sit down to eat together is such a hugely important part of being a family that can get brushed aside partly by boring, regular food. Especially with kids (and husbands) having food that is different and interesting as often as possible is a huge incentive to come together. Who would skip out on something like Mint Glazed Carrots? Not us!