You pretty little darlings are coming home with me tonight. I will use you to create deliciousness the world has never known before. And it involves Nutella.
You pretty little darlings are coming home with me tonight. I will use you to create deliciousness the world has never known before. And it involves Nutella.
Yes, I’ve been terribly delinquent in posting. BUT! (and isn’t there always a “but”?) I do have a good excuse. Mr. Kitchen and I are finally legally a Mr. & Mrs.! We were wed in a beautiful ceremony in upstate New York, and afterwards, we whisked ourselves away for a truly amazing honeymoon in London and Scotland. What’s this got to do with food (other than providing an excuse for not posting)? While on our honeymoon, we had two of the best meals we’ve ever had. You know that cliche that food in the U.K. is boring and bland? Don’t you believe it.
One was a gift from our darling bridesmaids — dinner for two at Ramsay’s at Claridge’s in London. I wish that we had had the opportunity to take photos of our dishes, cause let me tell you — nobody plates like Gordon Ramsay. The dining room, surprisingly, wasn’t overly stuffy, despite being located in the veritable institution of class that is Claridge’s. We ate ourselves silly through three courses that had us tasting roasted loin of rabbit, thai-spiced lobster ravioli, a delectable roast loin of pork, a light and delicate john dorry and desserts that knocked our socks off — a dark chocolate, raspberry and praline sphere, and a gingerbread souffle with a blackcurrant sorbet for my hubby. I can’t even begin to describe how beautifully blended each dish was — flavors were in turns surprising and comforting, but always balanced. Fine dining in London is no joke. Watching our servers was like watching the ballet – everyone flowing together, mostly in groups, in what I swear were synchronized steps.
Mr. Kitchen and I are sightseeing types — we’re not prone to lying on beaches. We love history and exploring a new city is a past-time that we both have really enjoyed. (Except driving in said new cities. That one nearly ended our marriage before it really got started.) We had run ourselves pretty ragged running around London and then Scotland, until we got to Skye, which is the. most. beautiful. place. on. earth. Yes. Each word needed its own punctuation. It’s that damn gorgeous. And the seafood! If you like seafood, I’m convinced you’ll never find better than on that island.
Some of the island looks like this.
And where we were staying? It looked like this.
We spent two nights there, relaxing and taking in the beautiful countryside. Little did we know, one of the top 35 restaurants in the world was just down the road in the middle of nowhere. The Three Chimneys is completely unassuming. You’d never know it was there and you’d definitely never expect a fine dining experience that is equal parts sophisticated and warm and welcoming. Everyone there was incredibly friendly, but the restaurant itself offers truly superb service. When the chef, Michael Smith, found out we were traveling from New York on our honeymoon, he invited us to come chat with him in the kitchen at the end of the night. I almost keeled over! I immediately bought two of his cookbooks, and he signed them both and then gave us copies of the night’s menu. We did manage to sneak some photos with our phones of our dishes — Sadly, they don’t do the meal justice. We did the seven course tasting menu, which is not for the faint of heart. All of the food is locally sourced and really, it’s worth the trip to Skye alone for a meal here. At one point, halfway through dessert, I turned to Mr. Kitchen and said, “I don’t think I can do it. I just don’t think I can finish.” Mr. Kitchen, who was well into a fine Talisker, said, “Oh you’re gonna man up and finish that dessert because that’s a Drambuie dipping sauce. I said Drambuieeee!” When our server came to ask if we had finished, I gave him a pitiful look and said, “My husband said I need to man up and finish this. I’m gonna need another minute.” He returned a few minutes later with a plate of mini desserts. He was evil. In the best way possible.
I present below, the menu and photos of most of our courses, from The Three Chimneys. Next up — I try my hand at jelly doughnuts and I discover the beauty of a nutella mousse!
An Amouse Bouche Terrine of Seafood (this wasn’t on the menu, it was a surprise first course)
Armadale Mackarel Tartare with Tattie Scones, Glendale Mesculun & Apple
Crab Risotto with Shellfish Essence and Truckle Wafer
A Selection of Broadford Cold & Hot Smoked with Farm Quail Egg
Sconser King Scallop with Hazlenut Crust, Split Pea & Ham Hough Purry
(Sadly, no photo – we were too busy eating to take the photo)
Three Loch Harport Oysters with Cucumber & Mint Jelly, Homemade Creme Fraiche & Loch Etive Trout Caviar
(served with ice cold vodka)
Roast Fillet & Shredded Shin of Lochlash Beef with Pearl Barley and Totaig Vegetable Broth, Horseradish
Dessert — Hot Marmalade Pudding Souffle with Drambuie Syrup and Mealie Ice Cream
I admit, I have been totally delinquent in my blogging, BUT! there has been good reason. Mama Kitchen had surgery this week — everything went smoothly, but I wanted to be here to help take care of her and to help out during the recuperation. So yes, delinquent blogger, but, also, good daughter. I think these things even out. Apparently, the universe has seen fit to reward me today and I couldn’t be happier. You see, I just won a gift certificate to Williams Sonoma. (Did anyone else just hear a choir of angels? Cause I sure did.) And who, you might ask, is the fairy godmother who hath bestowed this unbelievably good fortune? It’s Merci New York, this fantastic resource for chic, sophisticated stylish brides. And while Merci can plan any sort of event, their blog (Merci New York Blog) is an absolute must-read for brides.
Now – on to the recipes! Mama Kitchen chose this next one, but it’s really a perfect fit with our recent focus on fall produce. It’s getting chilly down here in South Carolina and the perfect cure for that? Chowder. Specifically — Chicken and corn chowder.
2 chicken breast cutlets (I’m sorry, I forgot to weigh them), cut into cubes
6 cups chicken stock
2 15.25 oz cans of corn, strained
3 celery stalks, diced
6 small russet potatoes, chopped into chunks
1/2 medium onion or 1 small onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp dill
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saute the diced onions until soft (about 3-4 minutes). Then add chicken and cook together with onions over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. Add celery, green peppers and spices. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring soup to a boil. Let cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Ladle out 1 cup of the boiling broth into a bowl (or measuring cup). Slowly stir in the 2 tbsp of flour. This will help to thicken your soup. After the flour has been completely incorporated into the broth, return the mixture to the soup pot and stir in and mix completely. Add potatoes and corn. Let cook for another 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add heavy cream, and mix into broth. Let soup simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes. (Note, you can also use corn starch in place of flour to thicken the soup.)
I won a cookbook giveaway! Since Mr. Kitchen and I have started planning our wedding, I’ve become a devoted wedding blog reader. I recently entered a giveaway hosted by OneWed for the Dam Good Sweet Cookbook by Beard nominee David Guas, and I won! The cookbook features New Orleans-style desserts and I can’t wait to give it a try. (How I’m going to fit into a wedding dress, I have no idea.) Mr. Kitchen is in for a yummy fall! Speaking of yummy, Mr. Kitchen and I have been working tons and tons over the past few weeks, and we are plum tired. So tired, that I forgot to buy tickets for today’s Vendy Awards. So instead of spending the afternoon tasting the delicious fare of some of the city’s best food trucks, we’re heading over to Eataly. Something tells me my bank account is going to be very angry with me later… Hey, some girls shop for shoes — I shop for food!
Anyway, on to fall produce! Next up: Carrots. Definitely one of the most versatile of the fall vegetables, carrots can go in, well almost any dish, and one of the easiest fall dishes to prepare is a hearty, stick to your ribs beef stew. Seriously all you need is the ability to chop, brown and boil to make stew. I’ve used lots of different cuts of beef for stews but I recently tried giving short ribs a try. I really liked the way it turned out — the marbled meat was definitely falling off the bone by the time the stew was done and it was absolutely tender. I’m also a firm believer (and perhaps this is my Irish heritage talking), that you can put in almost any vegetables you’ve got lying around.
7-8 hearty-sized short ribs
3 celery stalk (roughly chopped)
3 shallots (roughly chopped)
2 medium sized carrots (roughly chopped)
2 Yukon Gold potatoes (cut into bite size chunks)
1 sweet potato (or just use 3 Yukons) (cut into bite sized chunks)
1 turnip (roughly chopped)
2 cups beef stock
1 small bottle red wine (I think it’s 375 ml?) (I prefer a cabernet sauvignon for beef stews)
1 tsp salt (to taste)
2 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp tarragon
Flour (for dusting short ribs)
2 tbsp olive oil (for browning ribs)
In a bowl, toss the short ribs with flour, salt and pepper. In a large pot, heat oil and brown the short ribs on all sides. Remove short ribs from pot. In the remaining oil, saute shallots. Once they are soft, add the meat back in and add the wine. Cook over medium heat until the wine is halfway reduced, about 10 minutes. Add beef stock, thyme, tarragon, carrots, turnips and celery and reduce heat, cooking meat until it is very tender (about 1.5 hours). Add chopped potatoes and cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour, until all vegetables and meat are completely tender. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
The weather in New York City has been glorious this past week (except for that whole freakish Tornado thing). I’ve talked about how much I love this season, when it starts getting chilly and people buy new school supplies — I love the promise of an empty notebook! Fall is also the season when Mr. Kitchen and I truly fell in love, so this season has all sorts of super happy memories for me. One of our best dates was going to some of the OpenHouse NY sites. Each year in the fall, there’s an “Open House NY” weekend, where sites that are generally not open to the public open their doors for everyone to visit. We got to visit the garden rooftops surrounding Rockefeller Center and the Mason’s lodge in the city. I love exploring the city and I was so so happy to discover that Mr. Kitchen did too.
Another reason to love fall? The produce choices available in this season just can’t be beat. So in honor of this fabulous time of year, where there are Apples! Pumpkins! Squash! All sorts of root vegetables! I thought it might be nice to focus on fall produce recipes for the next few weeks.
First up? Apples.
Most people have an apple pie recipe, but apples make such a fabulous addition to all sorts of foods. I’ve seen it added as a last step in stews, had it chopped and roasted with onions and celery with chicken, and all sorts of other mix-ups with turkey and other proteins. My newest favorite is adding to it to a pork roast. Actually, it’s more like adding a bourbon-infused apple pie to pork roast.
2 lb pork loin
1 tbsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
generous pinch thyme, pepper and rosemary
2 tbsp olive oil, another 2 tbsp for searing
1 apple (I like Granny Smith), finely chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp Bourbon (your choice, but a word to the wise — if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.)
A roasting pan
Preheat the oven to 325°
Mix together dry rub ingredients (salt, cayenne, pepper, etc.) Rub down the pork loin with about 2 tbsp olive oil and then rub on dry ingredients. Let stand 10 minutes. In a pan large enough to fit the roast, heat the remaining olive oil. Sear the roast on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. (For a good tutorial on searing, see here)
Once the meat is seared, place it in the roasting pan. I like to use roasting pans that have an elevated roasting rack. I also add water to the base of the pan, as an extra insurance that the meat will remain tender. Cook the roast in the oven, uncovered, for about a half an hour. (You’ll be adding the topping to the roast and will be returning it to the oven.)
To make the topping, finely chop the apple and add the lemon juice. Add vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg and bourbon. Stir together well.
After the roast’s initial 30 minute cooking period, remove from oven and pile the apple topping on top of the roast. Return to oven (make sure there’s still water in the base of the pan!) and cook until the center of the roast reaches 160° . Generally, this takes about 40 minutes per pound, but I’ve found that using this topping makes the roast cook a bit slower. We’re also cooking this at a slightly lower temperature, to let the apple flavoring soak into the meat. If you’re shorter on time, a good guideline is 350° and 30 minutes per pound. Let roast stand for 10 minutes before carving (it allows the meat to firm up to make slicing easier).
I’m on vacation this week, and we’re headed out to Michigan to visit Mr. Kitchen’s family. We haven’t seen them since we’ve become engaged so we’re excited to go visit! Also, I am very excited to not get up and schlep on crowded smelly super hot subways for a week. I need to escape from the city, or at least work commuting, fairly regularly or else I get twitchy. Does anyone else living in the city get that? I’m generally a pretty happy person but every once in a while — generally after weeks of working overtime with no end in sight — I start getting irrationally angry at my commute. Once I even kicked a subway car. Guess what? When you do that? The subway car always wins. I had a bruise on my foot for a few days.
Anyway, back to my vacation and visiting my soon-to-be in-laws. I’ve never really cooked for my in-laws, but if I were hosting a meal, I would imagine I would serve something like this. Really, this might be the perfect in-laws over for dinner recipe. 1) It looks impressive 2) It involves crowd-pleaser ingredients (unless your in-laws have nut allergies) 3) It’s pretty easy to make and 4) It’s fairly healthy!
Makes enough for two breasts — Double for your in-laws!
2 tbsp butter
1/4 onion, diced
1/8 cup almonds, chopped or pulsed in food processor
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Panko
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (shredded)
1 tsp butter (melted)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
A bit of olive oil, for drizzling.
Preheat oven to 350º
To form pockets in the chicken: With a very sharp knife, cut from the top (thickest part) of the breast from right to left and top to bottom at approximately a 30 degree angle, so that you’re forming an angled slit throughout the entire length of the chicken. Make sure that you do not cut all the way through the chicken breast (otherwise you’ll have chicken breast halves). Start out easy, making a slow, shallow cut. You can always go back and cut deeper.
The stuffing: Melt butter in sauce pan and saute onions and peppers. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow mixture to cool. After it has cooled, mix cooked peppers and onions with almonds, egg and Parmesan. Spoon mixture into chicken pockets.
The topping: In a bowl, mix together Dijon and melted butter. Brush some of this over the chicken breasts. Mix remaining butter/Dijon with panko and Parmesan, and spoon on top of breasts, pressing the topping on gently to set it. Drizzle tops of chicken breasts with a bit of olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
My old kitchen was what we affectionately termed a Barbie kitchen. Literally the size of a dollhouse kitchen, it came complete with a mini, under-the-counter size fridge and an Easy-Bake Oven. I have no idea how I ever cooked things there — I had one square foot of counter space. Let me repeat that. ONE SQUARE FOOT. It was a galley kitchen you had to turn sideways to walk in. But I was single, so it was perfect for me. I had the unicorn of NYC real estate –a backyard — and I threw summer dinner parties and bbqs. But it came with lots of cooking complications. Like my freezer not working. And the fact that I could fit absolutely nothing in my fridge. And ONE SQUARE FOOT OF COUNTER SPACE. Can you imagine rolling out a pie crust in one square foot of counter space? Or making lasagna? Or chopping, well, anything?!? My stove was no better. I couldn’t fit a standard size roasting pan in there. I had to get itty bitty cookie sheets. The one blessing of that kitchen — it forced me to cook nearly every day. I couldn’t fit leftovers in my fridge!
Truth be told, I learned a lot about myself living and cooking on my own. I learned that I could never ever date someone who didn’t love food and who didn’t love my cooking. My husband-to-be, who I met while in that apartment, became my ultimate taste-tester and sometimes regretful guinea pig. I would venture to say he might have fallen in love with my lasagna and my cheesecakes before he fell in love with me, but he disagrees. It’s with him that I’ve finally graduated to a Big Girl Kitchen, complete with ten times the counter space of the Barbie Kitchen and a real, life-sized refrigerator and oven. I can cook whole meals in there! So here’s me, cooking my way through life, love and everything in between.