Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's In Your Fridge?

When I opened my refrigerator to assess today's side dish situation, I was greeted by one small zucchini and a tiny jar of pesto. A container of sour cream was perched on the top shelf and a single lonely egg sat quietly in the carton. Certainly there was a recipe hidden in these rogue ingredients... but what could it be? I opened my cupboard to find italian breadcrumbs and instantly the proverbial lightbulb clicked on - zucchini cakes! I grated the zucchini into a bowl and mixed in the egg white, a spoonful of pesto and about 3/4 of a cup of breadcrumbs. I warmed a skillet to medium heat and made one pass around it with some olive oil. I infused the oil with a clove of garlic and spooned in the zucchini mixture. As it sizzled in the pan, I watched for the edges to brown and then turned each patty like a pancake. Once they were crisp and golden brown, I removed them from the pan and sat each cake on a paper towel to draw out any excess oil. I served them as a pair with a healthy dollop of sour cream and the result was absolutely delightful. The subtle hint of garlic, the herby flavor of the pesto and the crunchy texture really made these veggie cakes quite delectable. With a little creativity, there is always a recipe waiting to be found.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baked Jicama Wonton

To prepare for the Super Bowl, I have been testing new appetizer recipes. It is tradition at my house to make a table full of finger food that my husband and I graze on during the game. Today's experiment was baked wontons. These tasty creations will most certainly add a unique pop to the table of goodies and be a welcomed change to the pigs in a blanket of the past. The filling was made from jicama, carrot, and cucumber that I cut into matchsticks and tossed in ginger salad dressing. I added the juice of a clementine and sprinkled in a little fresh cilantro before rolling each wonton and baking at 425 degrees for about 8 minutes. They were crunchy, flavorful, and addictive! Originally, I thought the cilantro might be a deal breaker, but the result was actually bright and balanced. As a side note to stylists, the wonton wrapper is my new secret weapon. Versatile and quick to make, they will definitely be a go-to when I am trying to fill a plate with the clock breathing down my neck. tick...tock...tick....tock...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sweet Citrus Concoction

This morning started out leisurely as I shuffled down to the kitchen to start cooking up a comforting breakfast. The ipod was playing, the coffee was brewing and I was easing into my day. I sliced up some fresh wheat bread, dipped it in a mixture of eggs, milk, and vanilla and patiently turned every little cube to ensure that each edge was perfectly toasted. I dusted the pieces with cinnamon sugar and skewered them, adding a twist of minneola to each stick just to be fancy. (I am a stylist, after all) It was shaping up to be a good morning. Coffee was steaming hot, adorable breakfast was plated, now all I needed was the maple syrup. Maple syrup?... did I buy maple syrup last time I was at the store? My heart sank just a little. Sure enough, when I opened the cabinet it was Old Mother Hubbard style - completely bare. Luckily, I had the rest of the juicy minneola from my garnish, a scoop of brown sugar and a dollop of apricot jam at my disposal. Cooked over medium heat, while my skewers stayed warm in the oven, the concoction yielded a delightfully sweet and citrusy glaze that complimented the cinnamon coated french toast. Necessity IS the mother of invention.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Power of an Apron

I love cute aprons. They somehow transform me into a different person in the kitchen. Suddenly, my confidence is boosted and I am a chef... ready to create. Not the kind of chef that wears a white jacket and a fancy hat, but the kind that cranks out comfort food filled with warmth and nostalgia. The kind that bakes cookies all day and makes homemade marshmallows for hot chocolate. The kind that can pull together a delicious dinner from whatever is in the pantry. Perhaps that is more of a home cook than a chef, but why spoil my fantasy with technical details? The bottom line is I feel fearless in my apron. The particular apron that inspired this post was sent to me by a dear friend. It was purchased from an artist in Jamestown, NC who recycles vintage clothes into adorable aprons and purses. The charm of something handcrafted is priceless. The love that went into making it, as well as the love that went into gifting it, will certainly translate to the food that is made while wearing it. Superheroes have capes to make them invincible... I have an apron. Game on.

For anyone interested, the artist's email is She does not currently have a website.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Celery Root Showdown

Thanks to my new found culinary curiosity, I decided to pick up some celery root this week and give it a go. After unpacking the rest of my groceries, I sat there staring at the gnarly knot, thinking... now what? I felt like I was in a showdown. It was high noon and I was a gunslinger. That eery western music echoed in the background. I snatched the root off the counter and started peeling. That pesky varmint wasn't gonna get the best of me! After removing the tough exterior, I diced the white bulb and placed the pieces into a pot of boiling chicken broth. After about 20 minutes, the cubes were tender and ready to be drained. With a hand mixer, I whipped the celery root to a mashed potato consistency. Seasoned with salt and pepper, the result was a full flavored side dish that didn't leave me feeling like I had a ten pound brick in my gullet. Looks like another notch on my apron string. Wonder where I can find a holster for my whisk...