Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Last of the tomatoes

A week of below 90º weather and I was craving some hot comfort food. It's already hot again now, but last week I indulged in some eggplant parmesan. I love this recipe so much because after coating the eggplant, you bake it instead of frying it. It doesn't soak up all that oil, but once you layer it with the sauce and cheese it's still so fullfilling. I served it with some penne, a salad, french bread, and red wine. Mama Mia!
It makes enough for two dishes so one is in the freezer for another night.
I tried to take advantage of the last of the tomatoes. I ended up with a ton of very small roma tomatoes. I found a really easy way to make them into sauce and freeze it. I gathered all of the tomatoes I could, washed them and cut the very top stems off.
Then I  put them in batches in the food processor, skins and all. I transfered all of that puree to a big pot and let them cook down at a simmer for 6-8 hours.
They started out with a lot of liquid. But after 6 or more hours they got really thick and the skins just cooked away but gave it a beautiful color.
I ended up with a few bags for the freezer. I didn't put any seasonings in it yet. Depending on whether I use it for pasta or chili later I can flavor it up then. It would be worth buying up tomatoes at the farmers market while they're so delicious if you don't have a garden, just to freeze some sauce for later.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Classic Cookbook

While wondering through a thrift store in Gloucester VA recently, I had a score of a find! I always head right to the cookbook section of used book stores just to see what they have. Well, there sat an original "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in great shape and a tag on it for $2.95! I was thrilled! It's not the first printing in 1961 but soon after. It was a missing link in my cookbook collection.
As I thumbed through the book on the way home I thought, wasn't it about a year ago that I made a big french dinner in honor of Julia Child's birthday?  Well I checked and yes it was, to the day! I found her amazing book on what would have been her 98th birthday.
I have no plans to try to bone a duck but I better do her proud and make some boeuf bourguignon!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sweet Frogs

 Check out the newest frozen yogurt place to open in C-ville on the downtown mall. Sweet Frogs. It's very cute inside and the self serve yogurt and toppings system reminds me of Pinkberry and other places I used to be addicted to in NYC.

You pick from 8-10 flavors and then an enormous array of toppings. All kinds of fresh fruits, nuts, granola, and of course candies. You pay by the weight, so beware of the very large bowls they provide you.
I'm already thinking of an excuse to go to the mall to get me some more Sweet Frogs. ( It could be considered lunch I think)
Here some very cute girls enjoying their Sweet Frogs.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Indian Cooking Class

I had the wonderful opportunity to take a cooking class (B-day gift from Ruthann) with another friend Kamud Vanderveer. She was born and raised in India and really knows her stuff. Her sister Hema was visiting for a couple of months so they did the class together. I was very excited because we all love Indian food and I'd had the pleasure of dining at Kamuud's before.
The menu for this class was from southern India which is quite different from what is offered in most Indian restaurants around here. They demonstrated the making of Avial -kind of a vegetable stew, Ollan- black eyed pea and vegetable dish, brown rice (which they make in a pressure cooker), Gothanmai Payaasam- a dessert, Pineapple Pachaddi- a pinapple chutney, and Mambalam Morkootan- a mango chutney.
Everything had so much flavor, and besides a little ghee (clarified butter), was completely vegan.

Sauteing the spices with curry leaves.
I learned about jaggery, a sweetener. It's pictured on the far left. Lots of coconut was used, either fresh or  pulp frozen.
The vegetable stew cooking.
And on to the best part. After all the demonstrating, questions, picture taking etc., we sat down to eat it all! It was fantastic!
Now I need to get inspired to try this at home. I think I'll just try a couple of items from the menu at a time.
She may do another series of classes so if your interested e-mail Kamuud at kmdvanderveer@yahoo.com.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Vlaamse Frites

A friend of one of my daughters had lived in Amsterdam and recommended a fabulous frites place. (Thank you Helen!) We love an adventureous destination especially if the reward is food. We were not disappointed when we finally found it. We got big pita's with falafel and tons of put on your own toppings. Then the frites with various sauces. 
We tried a curry sauce and something really spicy. Most of the locals just got mayonnaise.
If you happen to be headed to Amsterdam, check out Vlaamse Frites!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dining in Russia

We had a night in St. Petersburg to go to dinner before the theatre. We told our guide we wanted authentic Russian food in a place locals would eat too. She narrowed it down to a couple of places and took me in to choose based on the atmosphere. The minute I saw these chandeliers and the painting on the walls I said "This one is perfect!" It was called Sadko.
We started with vodka, served chilled in little glasses. The waiter told us it's meant to be downed in one gulp. I'm a sipper. The girls had mors, a berry drink.

Then I ordered a few appetizers so I could taste a lot of different things and the rest of the family got entrees.
This was a pickled platter, with salted cabbage, really nice.
Then a herring salad with beets and egg. Very good.
I had to try the caviar too. As expected  it was very fishy and salty, yikes. I think I prefer the black eggs. We all had a taste and then ate the delicious blinis plain.
We also tried draniki (potato pancakes), beef stroganov, and chicken kiev.
A very cool experience we won't soon forget.