Saturday, January 30, 2010


See what happens with all of  these cold winter days. We start debating Vodka!
We both like a good martini occasionally.  Mark has taken to buying really low shelf Popov (must we let this budget thing effect our vodka?).  I say it's fine for him because he likes to mix in lots of sweet stuff. I however drink it straight up with an olive. Well if I had my way I'd drink only Grey Goose. Have you seen how beautiful that bottle is! And it's from France, need I say more. Anyway, I said I'd be fine with the lowest brand a restaurant would serve you which is usually something like Smirnoff. While we were at the liquor store I got another really cheap brand, Burnett's, which my dad has always liked.
Let the tasting begin:
 I set it up so he couldn't put the same kind in every glass and then say "fooled you". We  poured them together and then mixed them up, since the glasses were labeled.
I stand by the fact that Popov is very strong smelling with a chemical taste. I, however chose the smooth non chemically taste of Burnett's over Smirnoff. I'm a bottom shelf drinker after all. My low brow husband picked the Smirnoff as the smoothest.
At least we haven't started buying Popov and putting it through our Brita filter. ( Mom why does the water taste funny?)

My perfect size martini with the perfect olive ratio.
I hope the sun comes out soon........., oh look it's schnowing aagain.......

P.S. I still accept gifts of Grey Goose!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

On a cold rainy January Sunday I decided a homemade chicken pot pie would hit the spot. I followed the recipe from The Art & Soul of Baking. The book has fantastic bread recipes so of course the crust was wonderful.

You can check out the recipe here and look at their beautiful picture. Ok, so I don't have a chicken cookie cutter. I had to assure the children that our cat and pet bunny were still just fine. You use what you have, right (for the cookie cutters). I thought this would look better than the dog bone cutter.

I've dined at several asian restaurants recently. I tried the fairly new Tara Thai in Barracks Road. I didn't realize it was a chain, until I saw the interior. It's identical to the one in Richmond at Short Pump. The food was tasty but I had a bad stomach later!

A great new chinese place is A Taste of China on 29N. At lunch time, for $6.25 you get a soup, a roll, a noodle dish, a main course, rice and a little dessert. It's a lot of good, fresh tasting food for a deal. It's my new local favorite chinese. I wasn't so impressed from what else C-ville had to offer as far a chinese food.

Then I went to a birthday gathering at Thai 99.  I hadn't been in years and hadn't been crazy about the food but I was pleasantly surprised. I had a curry and it was great. A while back Mark and I had a wonderful lunch at Pad Thai. We really have some good Thai choices in Charlottesville.

I hosted a breakfast recently and served lox and bagels. I got a variety of bagels from Bodos, which I declare are as good as any bagel in NYC. I mixed up some herbed cream cheese and had some plain, then I made a platter of lox, red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers and capers. Yum.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Surviving January

I placed a big order from Penzeys Spices before Christmas. I have been ordering from them for a long time, and love looking around their store in Richmond. I wanted to share what a better deal it is when you get the 4oz. bag as opposed to the 1/2 cup jar. You get twice the amount of spice for the same price. Just put it in your old jar!

Of course that's only for spices I use a lot of, frequently. Otherwise, a great idea is to go to the bulk food section of your local Whole Foods. Yesterday I needed some ground coriander and what I had on hand seemed quite old because I don't use it very often. At Whole Foods I was able to buy a couple of teaspoons for about 16 cents. Much better than buying a new bottle which could loose it's flavor before I used it again.

I'm still making lots of soups with this weather and when we had a real cold snap recently I took advantage of having the wood stove burning continually by simmering some Chili on it!

I made some mushroom soup this week which was the best I've ever made. It's a little rich but worth it!
Give it a try. It's definitely guest worthy.
Mushroom Soup
I used three different kinds of fresh mushrooms.(shitake, baby bellos, button) What ever kinds you can find fresh, use three packages.
Heat 1 stick of unsalted butter in a soup pot with 2 leeks chopped up and cleaned. Saute about 15 min.
Add the sliced up mushrooms and cook 10 more minutes.
Add 1/4 cup flour, cook 1 min.
Add 1 cup white wine, cook 1 min.
Add about 4 cups stock. I used chicken, you could use mushroom or vegetable stock.
Add 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 min.
Add 1 cup half and half and 1 cup heavy cream
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Eat warm with fresh bread!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Christmas Day

We may spend Christmas Day in our pajamas, but we still eat well. Years ago, we started a tradition of having crepes Christmas morning.

I make a  basic sweet crepe and then we put in mixed berries and  vanilla yogurt, and topped them off with maple syrup. My dad chopped up this beautiful fruit salad. ( Notice the strawberry man in the middle!)

Santa was very good to me! Actually my men were. My Dad gave me the ultimate spanish cookbook '1080 Recipes'. I'd checked it out of the library a number of times and knew I wanted to own it. I love the illustrations by Javier Mariscal so much. He also brought me some coffee and saffron from Spain.  Mark got me Italy's bestselling culinary bible  'The Silver Spoon'.  I've got some reading to do.

New Year's Eve was pretty calm around here (besides six teenage girls running around!). 
I did make these spicey glazed nuts (another David Lebovitz recipe) that I could not stop eating. They are so addicting.

Happy New Year! Here's to some wonderful culinary adventures in 2010. One of my resolutions is to broaden my food repetoire. There are so many things that I've never made before, that I need to just dive in and try. I started today by buying a duck. I've never made duck before so here I go.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas Eve Dinner

We always have our big holiday dinner on Christmas Eve. That way we can hang out in our PJ's all day on Christmas Day with no pressure of entertaining or cooking. That's a good thing!
 My Dad is always here and sometimes my Mom and stepfather.
 My Dad does an amazing job with lamb, so he makes it most years. This year he roasted it with rosemary and garlic and then deglazed the pan with some red wine. It was delicious!

 We also had potatoes dauphinois (scalloped potatoes with gruyere), creamed spinach, rolls and we started with a roasted butternut squash salad with cider vinaigrette. This salad was really good but I think the squash needed to be roasted a little longer than the recipe states.

For dessert I did a pumpkin roulade with ginger buttercream. It was quite easy to make. Here I am rolling the ginger buttercream into the cake.

And then the finished cake with holiday embellishments!

Happy Holidays!