Yesterday morning I was feeling quite chipper and more awake than usual right when I woke up. I ran down stairs and was thinking of doing our usual poached eggs with english muffin routine, but then I decided to try out a yummy looking recipe I had been eyeing in one of my cookbooks.
As usual Ina did not disappoint. Bacon, potatoes, chives….how could it go wrong!? It was an easy recipe and seriously nice enough for when our in-laws come to town. A must try!
-from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics Cookbook
Jeffrey and I have a wonderful routine when we go to Paris. We arrive late morning, drop our bags, and rush to CafĂ© Varenne for lunch. They make this fabulous country omelet with bacon, potatoes, and chopped chives. It’s such a satisfying breakfast or lunch. If you want to serve four people, double the recipe and make it in two pans.
Country French Omelet
1 tablespoon good olive oil
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, 1-inch-diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 extra large eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch ovenproof omelet pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is browned but not crisp. Take the bacon out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.
Place the potatoes in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until very tender and browned, tossing occasionally to brown evenly. Remove with a slotted spoon to the same plate with the bacon.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together with a fork. After the potatoes are removed, pour the fat out of the pan and discard. Add the butter, lower the heat to low, and pour the eggs into the hot pan. Sprinkle the bacon, potatoes, and chives evenly over the top and place the pan in the oven for about 8 minutes, just until the eggs are set. Slide onto a plate, divide in half, and serve hot.

 Bon Appetit!

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Most people seem to reserve Sunday nights to make a nice home cooked meal that’s a bit more time consuming comforting. But sometimes after a busy event weekend, Monday nights seem like the perfect day of the week to do a meal that make take a little bit more time.

With that being said I think many people feel that a roast chicken is a lot of work. It really couldn’t be easier and I’m telling you girls…men will LOVE you for making it! With a little bit of prep you just stick the clucker into the oven and let it roast away while you finish laundry or..paint your toenails!

Here’s how you do it:

1. Make sure your chicken is defrosted! Very important! I like to buy a few whole chickens at a time at Costco and pop them in the freezer for later use. I defrost them in our fridge, but sometimes they just sort of stay a bit icy. You’ll have problems with under cooked chicken if its even a little frozen. So make sure it isn’t!

2. Unwrap it, pull out all the yucky parts in the cavity of the chicken (giblets, neck, etc.) and discard. Wash the entire bird inside and out, pull out any pin hairs you may see that have been left in and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Liberally season the inside of the bird with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Then my favorite way to season the bird is to use citrus, herbs and garlic. There isn’t really any set way to do this… You can’t really mess it up. Just cut an orange in quarters, a lemon in quarters and a head of garlic in half then stuff it in the cavity of the chicken. Still room in there? Then cut another orange or lemon and stuff! I also like to cut some long sprigs of rosemary from our garden and stuff it in the bird. Smells divine while cooking and lightly flavors the entire bird. Nice.

Cut up some oranges and lemons….
4. Then once you got the bird nice and full with all the goodies, you need to tie it up so it cooks evenly. Don’t know how to tie a chicken? Go here for some help. Then salt and pepper the entire outside. Before sticking it in the oven you can also add quartered onions, potatoes, and carrots on the bottom of the roasting pan. Then you just plop the chicken on top of all the veggies and they will all cook together. The chicken juices will nicely flavor the vegetables. I decided on a different side dish, so I skipped this part.
4. Stick your bird in an oven that’s been heated to 400 degrees. I usually cook at least a 5 pound bird, so this size will take about an hour and 20 minutes to cook. I went a step further with this particular bird and juiced up one orange and a lemon. Then I added about two tablespoons of melted unsalted butter to the juice, about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper. Every 15 minutes or so I would brush a little of my citrus fruit concoction over the bird. This just makes the outside brown a little nicer and gives the whole skin a nice citrus flavor too. You don’t HAVE to do this part….but I didn’t have laundry to fold or furniture that needed dusting, so I was sort of just hanging out in the kitchen. 
Another note, keep your eye on the bird to make sure it doesn’t overcook or burn on the top or at the bottom of your pan. If the roasting pan starts to burn just add some chicken broth to keep it from drying out the bottom. Check it after about 45 minutes with a meat thermometer. When your bird reaches 170 degrees take it out of the oven, tent it with foil for 5-10 minutes and let it rest. This will allow any juices that escaped to find their way back into the meat. Makes it nice and juicy!
I should have taken a pic of the bird right when it got out of the oven BEFORE my hubby could start carving into the poor thing! But you get the idea.
See! Simple and easy, low fat, and yummy! On the side I made a vegetable filled Morrocan Couscous, but I halved the recipe since it makes a TON and added diced and roasted (2) carrots, (1) large yam, (1) zucchini. Just dice the veggies up, throw them on a baking sheet, drizzle about one to two tablespoons of good olive oil and then sprinkle kosher salt and ground pepper all over everything. Stick the veggies in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Of course now we have a lot of chicken left over, so I think since its planning on raining a bunch the next day or so, soup may be in order!

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January 22, 2010

What a little tart!

by Shelly

I’m not sure if I am totally getting use to this, rain all the time thing we are experiencing here in sunny So Cal, but I’m definitely taking advantage of all the indoor time. It’s not like I don’t tell you all often, but I LOVE the Barefoot Contessa! I mean, she lives in the Hamptons, she has a ton of fabulous gay friends that are OH so cute, and her cooking is just the perfect down home meets gourmet that I love.
Since my kiddo is all about four hour naps these days. No, I’m not kidding! I have had to get creative about doing stuff around the house and not just sitting on the computer surfing the web…like I’ve been doing the past two hours or so. 
This French Apple Tart by Ina is beautiful, rustic and pretty darn easy to make. So if you have these sitting around —–>
then you need to whip up this pretty dessert asap. Oh, and it tastes darn good in the morning with coffee and some cheese.
Once you’ve made the pastry dough and chilled it you just roll it out into a 10 x 14 inch rectangle. Then you take 1/4 inch slices of apple and place them overlapping on the dough.
Then you sprinkle with sugar and dot with butter and stick in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
And voila! You’ve got a fancy dancy rustic tart that’s perfect for a rainy day with a cup of tea or coffee. 
Then you glaze the apples with a little mixture of apricot jelly, Calvados and or rum and it’s done! 
Happy Friday everyone!!!

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December 27, 2009

Knocking it out of the park??

by Shelly

This was our first Christmas in our new home! Last year we were all crammed into a tiny nook of a dining room trying to do Christmas Eve dinner, but this year we could spread out! Not only can we now fit 10 people in our dining room, but I don’t have to yell at everyone to get out of my kitchen so I have room to cook and move.

Since my hubby’s eighty-six year old grandma was coming down from Central California to join in the festivities, I decided to try my hand at an old school classic dish….Beef Wellington! I didn’t really know exactly what it was to be honest. I just knew it was a serious classic Christmas dish and it sounded…well fancy. I wanted to try it AND “kill it” aka knock it out of the park, if possible. Then a few weeks ago one of my fav chefs on the Food Network, Tyler Florence made Beef Wellington and that was it..
Here’s how I did it:
1) First I sauteed finely chopped button mushrooms, garlic, thyme and shallots. I made this a few days ahead, so I was freaked out the day of trying to do it all at once. I stuck it in the fridge for a few days.
2) The day before Christmas Eve I bought a 3 1/2 lb. beef tenderloin from Costco. NO….it was not cheap! It ran me about $60-65 or so. But this was a special occasion, so I wanted to go all out.
3) I tied up the beef in four places to keep the beef in a cylindrical shape while cooking it. I rubbed extra virgin olive oil all over it and liberally salt and peppered the surface. Then I popped it in a hot pan with olive oil and seared the whole outside. Then I set it aside and let it cool a bit.

4) Then you lay out a large piece of plastic wrap. You have to make sure the wrap is big enough to roll the beef in and cover completely. On this piece of plastic wrap you shingle thin slices of prosciutto…about 6 slices on top and 6 slices on the bottom…in a square shape. Then you take your sauteed mushroom mixture that you’ve made ahead, and spread a thin layer of it over the prosciutto. Once you’ve done that you sprinkle kosher salt, cracked pepper, and thyme leaves over the surface.
5) Once your meat has cooled, you cut off the twine and smear the entire surface with a good dijon mustard.
6)Next, you take your seared tenderloin, plop it down in the center of your mushroom’ed prosciutto and using the plastic wrap, roll it up tightly tucking the ends of the prosciutto as you go. I twisted the ends to secure it and from this point you still the beef in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so it will hold it’s shape. I left the beef in a whole day before the big event. It came out just fine.
7) The day of I rolled out one pound of thawed puff pastry on a floured surface. You then unwrap the plastic from the beef and plop that sucker right down in the middle of your pastry. You need to make sure you roll the dough out wide and long enough so that it will wrap around your hunk of meat. Then you roll it up in the dough, tuck under the ends, using egg wash to secure and put the ugly seam side down on a baking sheet. Then you egg wash the entire surface, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and make a few small slits to let out steam during cooking. And then you stick it in a 425 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 125 degrees.
8) Once it’s reached the 125 degree mark, take it out set it on a platter and cover it with foil. Now don’t touch! Let it rest for 10-15 minutes..the juices will make their way back into the beef and the beef will continue to cook at this point.
9) Then you slice it in nice thick slices and pour some yummy Green Peppercorn Gravy over the top and ENJOY!
The meal came out PERFECTO! And I got some serious rave reviews from the fam. I won’t was a lot of work, but I felt like a champ after I was done. I also made the rest of the dishes that Tyler Florence made with his Beef Wellington. You can find the whole menu here.
Hope you knocked it out the park this holiday season too!

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July 24, 2008

Summer Cooking: Fish

by Shelly

Tried out a yummy new recipe last night from one of my Cooking Light cookbooks. I just went to Costco the other day and bought a bunch of salmon. I usually do my bbq recipe which I know my husband loves (I’ll give that recipe out next week), but I was aching to try something different.

Our neighbor John who is an organic gardener, gave us a few fresh cucumbers so I thought I would try to utilize those. Found this great recipe for Salmon with Cucumber Salad and Dill Sauce…so good!!! I didn’t have fresh dill on hand so I just cut down the amount of dill a bit and used dry instead. You cut down the amount of herbs in the recipe when you use dry because the flavor is more intense. I’m sure it would be a bit yummier with fresh, but I wasn’t about to pack up the baby to run to the store for one thing.

We had some fresh La Brea Bakery bread to go with it and a nice bottle of Pinot Noir (we prefer red even with fish). The dish was pretty light and could have used a carb…maybe a nice wild rice, but we gave ourselves two pretty big portions of fish. So it was filling for us. Oh and FAST…this recipe was a breeze to make and oh so quick! Definitely a do-again.

Salmon with Cucumber Salad and Dill Sauce
6 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill, divided
3 tablespoons rice vinegar, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 English cucumber (about 1 pound)

Combine sour cream, 2 tablespoons dill, 2 tablespoons vinegar, shallots, rind, juice, and garlic in a bowl, stirring well; cover and chill.
Sprinkle fish evenly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish to pan, and cook for 3 minutes. Turn fish over, and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add wine; cover and let stand 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave cucumber lengthwise into ribbons to yield about 2 cups. Combine cucumber, remaining 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, and remaining 1 teaspoon dill in a bowl; toss gently to coat. Place about 1/2 cup cucumber mixture on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 fillet and 2 tablespoons sour cream mixture.
4 servings

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 347(49% from fat); FAT 18.7g (sat 3.7g,mono 6.6g,poly 6.7g); IRON 1mg; CHOLESTEROL 102mg; CALCIUM 68mg; CARBOHYDRATE 7.2g; SODIUM 283mg; PROTEIN 35.4g; FIBER 0.9g

Jeanne Kelley, Cooking Light, AUGUST 2007

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