Tuesday, March 30, 2010

These Are a Few....

Of my favorite things!
I'm not especially committed to brands most of the time, but there are a few items I always go back to and stock up on when they're on sale.
These fire roasted canned tomatoes are fantastic. I think a lot of brands are making them now but they give a great smokey flavor to chili or tomato sauce.
Duke's mayonaise is  the only one to buy if you're not going to make your own. Any good southerner will tell you so.
I love these canned chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. A lot of recipes call for them now too. I open a can, chop it up in a mini chopper and then put it in the refrigerator. Just a smear on a quesadilla, burrito, taco, pannini, or chili is great!
Nutella pretty much speaks for itself. What's not to love (except the calories). Buy some croissants, open them up and put a smear of nutella on them. Wrap them in foil and warm them in the oven. Voila, you are instantly in France eating a fresh hot chocolate/hazelnut croissant.
And the olives; I love the olives you can get from all of the olive bars (in the grocery stores) now, but for a martini I always have some bottled on hand. I love to mix it up a bit and use olives stuffed with jalapenos or spicy peppers. Adds a nice kick.

I love Barilla pasta and yes they do sell it it Italy, I checked. DeCecco is wonderful but usually   expensive, I get it occasionally for entertaining.

There are lots of wonderful icecreams out there and I love to make homemade in the summer but our standard, always have on hand, (usually in two flavors), is Breyers. Vanilla and coffee are my favorites and they're great for topping all kinds of desserts. It's  on special a lot so I usually get two for $5.
Have you seen these Dorot herbs in the freezer section? In the winter when I don't have fresh basil on hand it really perks up a dish. It has perforated cubes so you just use what you need. Brilliant.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Going Green

Is it possible to go too green? Why yes it is and I think I crossed that line on St. Patrick's Day this year.
I was feeling festive and the girls love the tradition of an Irish dinner but ...........
It started with these Emerald Isle cocktails. Nigella Lawson was raving about them on NPR that morning but she can make dirt sound delicious. They are gin with creme de menthe. One was plenty and we agreed never to make them again. This green edamame dip  was good and good for us too.
Then I made Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread from Bon Appetit. It was delicious but very rustic looking. 
(Like something you would be served at a Renaissance Faire)

Then of course, the corned beef and cabbage. I promised Mark I'd make him pork next year because he's the only one that doesn't love corned beef and cabbage.

And we topped it off with a green sprinkled  banoffe pie!
I think I'll channel my green endeavors to the garden from now on.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kebabs and Kabobs

In my Jan. 26th 2010 blog entry I mentioned a wonderful chinese restaurant we had been to for lunch and what a great value it was. Well Asian Inn Taste of China has more of a following than I realized. I just heard the hoopla about the famous chinese chef, so check out these articles in The New Yorker and  Oxford America all about chef Chang here in little ol' Charlottesville. I must get there again soon before he up and leaves!

And now about those Debbie Meyer Bread Bags....I put some bread in a regular ziplock and some in the Debbie Meyer  bread bag for about a week. They seemed to dry out about the same, still no mold on either one, but the bread in the regular ziplock got a strong alcohol smell but the other one was still fine. They were from the same homemade loaf, so I give the bread bags two thumbs up. The Debbie Meyer Green Bags seemed to work too, as long as you dry the produce off really well before storing it in the bag.

Finally got to Ariana Grill and Kabob House last week. Someone may want to tell them their web page may appear frightening to some people. ( It made me laugh hard).

My lunch was great. I got two appetizers: Baudinjam Buranee- fried eggplant and Bolanee Kachalow- turnovers with seasoned potatoes.
Mark got a kabob wrap that was good but nothing special. We tried a green tea and a Doogh (yogurt drink).
We both flinched on our  first sip of the Doogh. I guess we're so use to sweet yogurt drinks. This was quite sour, almost like buttermilk, with cucumber and mint. I can see how it might be very refreshing, (in the Afghan desert).
Looking forward to trying more items for dinner. We love kabobs and even speak kabob. Kacheckbob kaitbob kaoutbob. I think I'd only had kebabs before...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


What kind of flour do you use? I'm always curious what other's opinions and experiences are with different kinds of flour.  I always have on hand; all purpose flour, bread flour, and whole wheat flour. I love King Arthur Flour so whenever I see it on sale I buy a lot of it. Sometimes it's hard to tell if your baking or cooking is getting better because of something you're doing or is it that you've just learned to use great ingredients.
I tried some local Wade's Mill flour from Whole Foods recently and it gave a nice texture to my scones. I always use their cornmeal, it's great.
I ran into my friend Ellen at Sam's Club recently and she was buying their 25 lb bag of bread flour. I just hadn't considered it before, but she bakes a lot of bread and was having good results with it. It had been recommended to her by someone else. So in my cart goes the 25lb. bag. It was only $6.87!!
My bread has been fine with it. My only complaint is that it's bleached. So I still look for  King Arthur all purpose on sale, but the 25 lbs. for $6.87 can't be beat for all of the loaves I make for sandwich bread. King Arthur cake flour is wonderful too. I've used it recently for coffee cake and caramel cake.

These "as seen on TV" stay fresh bags were also recommended to me, so I thought I would give them a try. They are supposed to prolong the freshness of your bread- (brown bags) and fruits & vegetables-
( green bags).
They seem to be working well but I'm going to do a true test. For the bread I will divide a loaf in half and store one half in a ziplock bag and the other in the new bag and see if they really work.
I'll do the same with some kind of vegetable in the refrigerator. I will report back to you with my results and see if they are worth it. I got these at Bed Bath and Beyond and Target.