Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Food Trends

Well this is the time of year when notable food authorities make predictions about the popular food trends for the coming year and which items have gone by the wayside. I just love this blog post that I came across about the worst food trends of the decade. I got a good laugh.

Bon Appetit's Hottest Food Trends for 2010:

  • Dish of the Year: Meatballs - I love meatballs from most all cuisines! I am most definitely on board with meatballs trend or no trend!
    Albondigas, keftedes, kofta, Swedish, pork meatball banh mi, and of course Italian!

  • Cuisine of the Year: "New Austrian"
    Since I am of German descent, I like to try dishes from the region. When my great grandparents first came to the US, they opened a German-American restaurant. When the war broke out, it was not popular to be German in the US and the restaurant was changed to the American restaurant. The German on the sign was painted over. I am glad to see some culinary recognition and popularity for fare from this region. Some of my favorites are sauerbraten, wienerschnitzel, spaetzle, and soft pretzels!

    Craft beers are very popular right now. I am a wine drinker and had not had a beer in a very long time. Well, let me tell you a cold beer and a homemade soft pretzel - heavenly! I have been searching for a really good soft pretzel recipe and finally found one. So good! I haven't perfected shaping the pretzel - hehe... pretty funny looking but the taste makes up for it!

  • Ingredient of the Year: Sriracha
    My family loves hot sauce. My daughter even likes it on pizza and eggs. Great ingredient!

  • Party of the Year: Modern Vegetarian
    I try to eat vegetarian meals a few times a week but I do not know that I would host an all-vegetarian party. Vegetarian options - yes. I'm not quite feeling this trend.

  • Desserts of the Year: All-American Comforts
    Slump cake, Apple Brown Betty, and Coconut Cake - I am not too much of a dessert eater but these all sound good. Forget about trends, I do like a good chocolate chip cookie, New York style cheesecake or a brownie with nuts!

Epicurious has its own list which includes

  • Dish - fried chicken (out with burgers)
  • Dessert - mini whoopie pies (out with mini cupcakes)
  • Ingredient -lamb (out with pork)
  • Health trend - immunity building diet (out - dining on Omega 3s)
  • Drink - homemade beer (out - mad-science cocktails)
  • Profession - butcher (out -mixologist)
  • Entertaining trend - potlucks (out - formal dinners at home)

While it is fun to look at trends, I don't think that they will influence me that much. I will keep trying new ingredients and recipes, but will try to lighten things up following the absolute gluttony of the past few weeks! I will make what I like and forget about the rest.

I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Challah Bread French Toast

Everyone makes french toast - no recipe needed! Milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and I add a pinch of fresh nutmeg. What makes french toast spectacular is great bread. My favorite is challah. Challah bread is a rich, beautiful, braided bread and makes for a decadent french toast. I served the french toast with whipped cinnamon butter and warm maple syrup (real maple syrup - sorry Mrs. Butterworth!)

Cinnamon Butter:
1 stick softened butter
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Recipe By: Beatrice Ojakangas

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite cookie hands down is the chocolate chip. I'm not too much of a sweets eater but I cannot resist a good chocolate chip cookie - especially at the holidays! When I saw the Baking Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on browneyedbaker, I knew that I had to make them. They were so delicious - actually too delicious - I didn't stop at just one! Thank goodness these evil cookies are now gone. They are dangerous!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Visiting New Jersey

My brother arrived from "The OC" (Orange County, California) on Saturday just in time for the big storm. 22" of snow fell at the Jersey Shore, which is a huge snowfall for this area. After a flight delay and a harried shuttle ride, my husband picked him up at the local shuttle stop which is about 6 miles away. The short drive took 45 minutes each way. When he arrived at my house it was late and we ate junk food. Perfect snowed-in type of TGIFriday's 1980's menu items. Oh, and he downed two Dunkin Donuts upon his arrival at Newark airport (and he's the skinny one!) I can't believe that there are no Dunkin Donuts in California! In fact the closest to him is in Las Vegas. Here in New Jersey, we can't go much more than a mile without stumbling upon a Dunkin Donuts shop! That's kind of scary, now that I think about it! I'm not really a fan - luckily! Well it might be beautiful, sunny and warm in California but who would want to miss a good old fashioned fun and dysfunctional family Christmas with a snowstorm to boot?! Merry Christmas to all! Wishing you all the best for a safe and happy holiday!

Recipe for Mexican Style Shredded Beef in a Crockpot
1 lb. beef cubes
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1 chopped onion
1/4 cup salsa verde
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Toss beef cubes in the taco seasoning to coat. Lightly grease the crock pot casserole with vegetable oil. Add the seasoned beef cubes, chopped onion, salsa verde, and vinegar. Cook on low for several hours. Shred with two forks. The beef is perfect for nachos and tacos.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random Tidbits and Addictions

My cousin Jill sent me these fabulous homemade rum balls. She claims that she is not a very good cook but these prove otherwise! I love this time of year!

This is my favorite crumb cake recipe. Martha Stewart knows her stuff when it comes to NY style crumb cake! I made this for my husband to share with his office. I snuck a few pieces for my daughters and me :)

I love this cheese at Christmas time! A glass of wine and Wensleydale with Cranberries - perfect!
Oh, and I can't stop eating these green olives that I picked up at Whole Foods. I'm not sure what's different than usual about them, but yes, I'm addicted!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Salmon with Mushrooms and Dill

Following the gluttony of Thanksgiving, I really wanted something light and healthful for dinner. What came to mind was salmon. Well, this is one of my favorite and easiest recipes for salmon. I portion the salmon into 6 oz. pieces and season them lightly with salt, pepper, and add a small drizzle of olive oil to keep the salmon from sticking to the pan. I top the fillets with sliced mushrooms and plenty of fresh dill. Lastly, I add a small pat of butter to the top of each fillet and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes (until it flakes easily with a fork). So simple, yet absolutely delicious! Dinner ready in twenty minutes - I love that!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Spinach Salad and a Prime Rib Sandwich

Today is National Comfort Food Day and the weather is terrible here in NJ (just above freezing and rainy)! I'm sure that it is snowing in other parts of the State. The perfect day for comfort food. I have lots of favorite comfort foods (generally cheesy, high caloric foods :) but I was really in the mood for a steak sandwich. I rarely eat red meat but every once in a while I really crave it. The butcher had beautiful, thinly sliced, prime rib. I sauteed an onion and sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil. I seasoned the onions and mushrooms with salt, fresh pepper, and some fresh thyme. I added the thinly sliced meat after the onions and mushrooms were cooked and lastly added grated gruyere cheese. Served it on toasted rolls. Heavenly!

I also made The Pioneer Woman's Spinach Salad. It was fantastic! I love how Ree fixed what I don't like about most spinach salads, namely raw red onions and uncooked mushrooms. Carmelized onions and sauteed mushrooms are so much better. Perfect! Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pan Roasted Pork Chops with Bourbon Sauce

This pork chop recipe is super easy and the sauce is so tasty! Yes, the sauce is the star here - yum! I think that it is the perfect recipe for this time of year. I served the pork chops with baked sweet potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts - healthy and delicious!

Pan Roasted Pork Chops with Bourbon Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Cuisine at Home magazine, June 2002
Pork Chop Brine:
Dissolve in one gallon resealable freezer bag:
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 cups ice water
Dissolve salt and sugar in hot water. It helps to set the bag inside a large bowl in case of spills or leaks. Add ice water to brine. This will cool the brine quickly. Add the pork and seal the bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Just before cooking, dry chops to remove excess brine.
4 1″-thick brined rip chops
2 T olive oil
1 T garlic, chopped
1 T shallot, chopped
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup bourbon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T apple cider vinegar
2 T heavy cream
Reserved pork chops
Preheat oven to 425. Season chops with pepper. Dust lightly with flour. Brown one side in olive oil over medium-high heat. Turn, cover and roast in oven for about 10 minutes. While the chops are in the oven, saute garlic and shallot in 1 T drippings over medium-high heat until soft. Deglaze pan with bourbon and broth. Add sugar and vinegar; reduce by half. Add cream and pork chops to pan and cook for 2 minutes each side until sauce is thick. Makes 1 cup sauce.