Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cook to Live, Live to Cook

by Xani

So, I managed to spend another entire weekend cooking.  What has happened to me??  I guess I'm figuring out that the challenge, excitement, and sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully preparing food, then sharing that food with my friend and family, is not such a bad way to spend one's time.  Plus, we got to eat like kings without leaving the house or shelling out tons of money at restaurants.  All good things.

Like last week, I want to share with you some of the things I cooked and what I learned.  I took more pictures this time!

I guess I'll start with revealing what was in the mystery picture I posted on Saturday--- pepita brittle!  There were some close guesses in the comments.  It was a snap to make and absolutely delicious.  And what did I do with it?  Well, I completely lost my grip on reality and decided to fold it into this brown butter ice cream.  This was possibly one of the most decadent things I've ever made EVER, and that's sayin' something!  Ice cream with two sticks of butter?  Yes, I served it in very small portions.  But then, I served it alongside of a homemade apple pie (Ruhlman's 3-2-1 pie dough method, classic filling of apples, sugar, spices, lemon juice and cornstarch).  It. was. RIDIC.   I left some of the ice cream plain (no brittle) so I can scoop it into warm apple cider, as recommended in the recipe.  And after drinking that, I can die happy.
pie before
pie after! sadly you can barely see the adorable maple leaf cut outs I decorated with
mmm pie
Moving on to savory foods, we ended up having three amazing dinners over the weekend: Japanese (sushi and tempura) on Friday, French (steak frites) on Saturday, and Greek (leg of lamb) on Sunday.  It was like a world tour in my kitchen!  Dave is the sushi master in the house, so he prepared these gorgeous rolls (salmon, tuna avocado, and shrimp tempura):

and we also fried up this yummy plate of shrimp and veggie tempura:
yeah, that's a dragonfruit garnish.  We're fancy!
Sadly, we completely forgot we had a bag of mini Snickers, Twix, Three Musketeers, etc which would have been an excellent way to "use up" the rest of that tempura batter... oh well, next time.  On to France!

After picking up some really nice, thick NY strip steaks, we decided to try out an America's Test Kitchen technique.  Do you guys know about America's Test Kitchen yet?  It's part of the Cook's Illustrated/Cook's Country organization, and they have a show on PBS that I religiously TiVo.  I even subscribed to their website because they have really creative, effective, well-tested methods that actually work in the home kitchen.  (The Cook's Illustrated iPhone app is pretty cool, too, and I wouldn't mind a subscription to Cook's Illustrated magazine, if anyone is doing some early holiday shopping??  anyone??).  Anyhow, we used ATK recipes/methods for both the steak and the fries, and they both came out absolutely wonderful!  They were both "members only" recipes so I don't want to give away too many details and have Chris Kimball and his gang come after me.  But check out these pics:
This might be the prettiest steak I've ever turned out.

Finally, we travel to Greece with this gorgeous and HUGE leg of lamb.  After researching a few recipes, we finally settled on this one, because, well, it uses 20 anchovy fillets!  Half you stuff into little slits in the lamb, along with garlic slivers and rosemary springs.  The other half you cream with BUTTER and rub all over the outside of the lamb.  I couldn't resist, and couldn't wait to see how the anchovy flavor transformed during the roasting.  We also couldn't resist a little pyrotechnics--so we threw in a technique from this recipe and set the rosemary sprigs on top of the lamb aflame (briefly, I got nervous and made Dave put out the fire) before serving.
Lamb on Fire
The taste was wonderful-- no fishiness from the 'chovies, they just melted away into pure savory essence. The  lamb, garlic, and rosemary flavors were a perfect and classic match.  Served with some roasted potatoes and Greek salad, this was quite a meal!  We hardly had room for that pie and ice cream... let's see that picture again:
Yum.  Let's be honest, there's ALWAYS room for dessert :)

Hope you are enjoying all the new content on BCD.  Stayed tuned for more posts and big changes, coming soon!



  1. you just made me STARVED.

  2. amazing cooking xani! Isn't it just the best feeling when you can feed so many people you love with really good food?

  3. I have an America's Test Kitchen cookbook, and every recipe comes out perfect every time. It's the best.

  4. wow - that is awesome, and way to go Dave on the gorgeous sushi! The potatoes with the steak are baked or deep fried?

  5. I'm jealous of your weekend menu! The tempura looks delicious, I'll have to try making that at home sometime soon! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Alexis- they are fried. ATK has a cool technique that uses lots less oil, less steps, and produces excellent fries with less fat than traditional frying (not that I was very concerned with far content this weekend!)

  7. Love the new look here girls! Keep on cooking! =)

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