Posts Tagged ‘butter’

Sitting on my balcony this morning, drinking my Starbucks coffee and nibbling on a delicious oatmeal cookie I purchased at Whole Foods last night. Not too far from my apartment are several really wonderful grocery stores, and last night I chose Whole Foods. What a fantastic hot and cold bar! I bought a very little bit of cauliflower, broccoli, bean sprouts, and green peas. If I add mushrooms, carrots, and onions to the mix I will have enough for two generous servings of stir-fry veges this week. I think a few raw cashews topping those veges would be just perfect. Yep! A plan. Today I will go to the local Giant grocery to pick up some of Amy’s low-sodium soups. Can’t seem to find the low-sodium anywhere else.

Sigh….. I do miss a co-op, though. I loved my co-op in Carrboro, NC (Weaver Street Market) and the one I left in Manhattan, KS (Peoples Grocery). However, no city offers everything for me, and Annapolis still ranks pretty high in most areas! (especially seafood. yum!)

Gone is almost all of my delicious vegetable soup I made a couple of weeks ago, so I need to make more. Only one or two more servings in the refrig, and I really like to pack it for lunches. Add a few crackers and peanut butter or cheese – and oh my goodness I am smiling!

This past Sunday I made a scrumptious fish gumbo, made with tomatoes (from a can), lots of sliced okra, green pepper, onion, a few seasonings, and grouper. I use a little more hot red pepper than written in the recipe, but I like the heat. Now, my heat is not the kind that makes your eyes bulge out and your forehead sweat. But it is rather hot. Also, my soup does not include rice – I place a few tablespoons of rice (brown and wild mix) on top of the gumbo. That way the rice is more neutral and helps my tongue adjust to the heat. Or something like that!

I used one of Mama Dipp’s recipes (those of you from North Carolina probably know about Mama Dipp!), only she uses catfish. And I have adjusted it in a few other ways as well. But from her I learned the trick of placing the rice on top when being served. I truly like that idea! And if you like spicy hot soups, I suggest you try the same sometime. Here is a photo:

Another night I prepared sliced eggplant with melted cheese. I don’t like breading on my veges, so I simply performed the usual eggplant ritual of washing, slicing, salting, draining on a paper towel for 20 minutes, rinsing, and frying in just a tiny bit of canola oil. Sometimes I just throw it in a hot frying pan and “dry” cook it, but that little bit of oil adds some crispy. While that was frying I sliced a few thin slices of fontina cheese and Parmesan Reggiano. Then took the slightly crispy eggplant, placed a little cheese on top, and broiled for a bit in my toaster oven.

Before beginning on the eggplant, I cut in half the rest of my mixture of tiny tomatoes from last week’s trip to the farmers’ market, sliced an onion, and marinated those tasty morsels in balsamic vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, and basil.

THEN!! I took out of the freezer a serving of lump crab meat. Yes, I said lump crab. Oh oh oh one of my new favorite foods in this world. Seriously people. It is so sweet and rich that I cannot eat too much at one time, so I freeze in small servings.

Anyway, I sliced a few mushrooms and browned them in butter; once the butter had browned I added a touch of white wine. Threw in the crabmeat and tossed it a bit so it would just warm through and not cook too much. Then two tablespoons of whipping cream. Oh. My. Goodness. I stirred for about 5 seconds, then placed on my plate.

And there was more! For another fantabulous meal I prepared an avocado salad with thinly sliced onions, chunks of grapefruit, and a little French dressing. This dressing I made from a recipe out of an older cookbook that belonged to my grandmamma, and it consists of mostly oil and cider vinegar with a little paprika. I think I will start to cook more from that old cookbook, but I’ll write about that project another day. In the meantime, here is a picture:


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OK OK, last weekend’s Sunday night was absolutely one of the tastiest of my life! Really. And for someone who has lived over……mumble mumble…..years, and who loves to cook and eat really good food, that says a lot! Yes, this past Sunday night I traveled to the metropolis of Wamego (pop. 4,246 according to the 2000 US Census) and had a simply marvelous meal at the Emerald City Market on Lincoln Avenue. Yes, on the same side of the street as the OZ Museum and a little restaurant called Toto’s Tacoz.

Before you jump in your car to drive to this delightful over-the-rainbow paradise, let me tell you that it is a store and not a restaurant. But every once-in-a-while, the owners, Larry and Clark, offer up a gourmet meal that follows a particular theme. On this specific night they served up several authentic Italian dishes, but not only did they serve the dishes, they allowed us to watch as they cooked and instructed us on how to follow the same steps at home. What I found most amazing, in front of the audience of ten hungry people, they cooked, instructed, shared stories, answered questions, laughed, drank wine along with the guests, and never lost their place in the scheme of preparing our dinner. Honestly, I think that one major feat amazed me more than just about anything else!

Hmmm…..let me think about my favorite dishes that night. Well, first of all they focused on the grains of Arborio rice, polenta, and orzo. I had prepared Arborio rice once before myself, and I still don’t understand why we call it Arborio rice when it is raw but then call it risotto when it is cooked. I’ll have to ask them that question next time I go to the store.

Anyway, one dish involved sautéing shallots in butter. Lots of butter. Then Larry added the Arborio rice, champagne, and chicken broth. When just about done he added frozen green peas and a mixture of wild mushrooms. I tell you what! I love mushrooms and butter, and this whole dish was just so darn creamy! (oh yes! And sprinkled on top of each serving was freshly grated Parm. yum!)

We actually enjoyed two complete meals, the first starting with an orzo salad composed of cooked orzo combined with crisply-cooked pieces of pancetta, pecans, and a few other goodies for tremendous flavor! One of these “other goodies” was a garlic flavored olive oil, and when I say “flavored”, I mean only one cup of olive oil was infused with ten cloves of garlic!! And all of these delightful flavors were stuffed into a tomato half and served to my ravenous tummy.

The next dish served was the risotto dish with lots of butter I mentioned earlier. Followed then by my favorite dish of the evening, a buttery, buttery, small, crispy polenta cake topped with strawberries cooked with sugar and brandy, and also topped with a few fresh strawberries to make it even more appetizing and emerge even more appealing. Did I mention there was butter involved? Anyway, since I was afraid that I would not be able to eat all the food, I always left a little of each course on my plate. However, not with the polenta cake and berries! It was all I could do not to pick up that little plate and lick it clean! Rest assured, I did not do that, but I did run my fork over the plate several times to get every scrumptious calorie available to me!

After that three-course meal, we all took a little break while Larry and Clark (and their wonderful and very efficient assistant, Kris. You really did a good job, too!) sorta reorganized the kitchen. As we walked around the store I found so many wonderful jars and packages of specials foods (olives, spreads, grains, etc.) that I will need to try at home someday. And that will be easier now, because one of the treats of attending this special affair was receiving a gift certificate for $5 free good stuff when I spend $20. Not a difficult chore. (I already have my eye on the Stilton blue and the Parmesan in the cheese case.)

We were all called back in for the second meal, which started with a tortellini soup. These tiny little donut-like rings were filled with scrumptious cheeses, which Larry cooked in a beef broth, flavored with garlic and a few vegetables. It was a very light beginning to our second meal, so I ate almost all of that. Oh yes! I forgot to mention that we were also given baskets of hearty bread with small bowls of dipping oils, sea salt, and freshly-grated Parm. This bread, along with the accompaniments, was a perfect dipper for the soup!

The main course this time was a polenta cake created with heavy cream, eggs, and other tasty things. Of course, that also means more garlic! Clark baked them in the oven, topped with thick slices of pork loin wrapped in proscuitto. Anyway, the pork was tender and the proscuitto crispy. Well, you know me and pork, I can’t eat much of that. But I had about four bites, and for pork, it was about the best I’ve ever eaten. I’m still wondering if it was really an Italian dish, though. Seems like if we were eating polenta (which for me was just like eating really hearty lip-smacking grits), and also eating pork wrapped in pork, it surely was more of an authentic Southern American food. I know all my relatives back home in the South would have loved it!

We ended the night with a risotto pudding of sorts, loaded with milk, vanilla, sugar, and creamy, creamy risotto. Clark cooked it on top of the stove in a double boiler, and it tasted so much like my own famous rice pudding I bake in the oven, only creamier. Oh yes! No garlic here, but still the butter. Mmmmmm…..more butter……oh my goodness! Then, for the ultimate crown of this creamy yum, he topped it off with a drizzle of dulce de leche. Vanilla flavored risotto topped with a caramel-like sauce? Oh my goodness! You know I do not dislike chocolate, but I’d rather have vanilla and caramel any day, and this dessert offered both!

Truly, this evening was great fun, attending with Regina and Tara B, two of my librarian friends. We shared the evening with seven other people we did not know, and that camaraderie only added to the entertainment. We were given the choice of wines, with Cavit’s Pinot Grigio (my choice), or a pinot noir called Pinot Evil. Again, you know me, I only had half of one glass, and then drank water the rest of the evening. I would have enjoyed more, but I already found myself talking right much, asking questions, and beginning to laugh a little too loud! However, water is good.

Sure, this type of evening isn’t free, but I believe the $40 I paid was well worth the food and the pleasurable evening. And the memories? priceless!!

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