Saturday, December 22, 2007

Seasoned Eatings Recap

When Katie (A Thyme for Cooking) and I announced our Seasoned Eatings event this year I thought that maybe there would be about 5 or ten bloggers joining in to partake in the international gift giving. To my surprise, and surely due to Katie's brilliant and compelling blog, we had over 20 fabulous food bloggers join in the festivities!

While I hope you enjoy reading about everyone's special gifts here, I also hope you will take a moment to visit each bloggers post to hear the details of receiving and cooking with these new spices. Thank you to everyone who participated... I'm already trying to cook up another reason for gift giving in the coming months so if you had fun this time or weren't able to participate in this event stay tuned...
Let the round up begin!

The ever creative Carla from dessert-lounge received handmade sheep cheese with Greek oregano (Handpicked in Greece!!!) from Laurie at Tastes Like Home (Med Cooking). With these delicious ingredients she made a delicious looking oregano chicken. I hope you saved us leftovers, this looks incredible!

Darling Lisa from I've got Seoul received her delicious seasonings from Carla at Dessert Lounge. While we haven't seen the culinary creation that will certainly result, I have no doubt that Lisa will do these seasonings proud! We will stay tuned until the results are posted.

The amazing Meryl from My Bit of Earth received Korean red spice from Lisa at I've got Seoul. She promises to make up a nice batch of pre-Christmas munchies real soon at which point I'm sure she will share the delicious results. (so stay tuned!)

The very lucky Chris from Melecotte received many amazing things from Gattina of GattinaMia including: peppercorns, green olives, oregano, Jamon potato chips AND crackilng corn kernels with a unique (and translated) recipe from a Spanish magazine. The resulting open-faced sandwich with Spanish anchovies and peppercorns is still making me drool! There's another recipe, too...but you have to check her post to see it ;)

Betty from Cuisine Quotidian received some authentic Old Bay Seasoning straight from Chris at Melecotte. I cannot wait to see the final results but first take a look at the exciting package that arrived:

The lovely Jann from Traveling Food Lady received some beautiful spices from Betty of Cuisine Quotidian. She sauteed the lovely spices with some fresh winter squash which resulted in a unique new favorite!

The culinary genius Laurie from Med Cooking received gorgeous Italian sea salts seasoned with aromatic herbs from Jann of Traveling Food Lady which were promptly (and deliciously) turned into Ladenia (Olive oil bread with tomato-onion topping). YUM! Laurie was also kind enough to give us a bit of a lesson on Ladenia in her post, check it out!

The lovely Lannae from a Lannae's Food and Travel received jerk seasoning from Deb of Debs Wine and Garden. Not only does this chicken LOOK amazing, but it sounds amazing too! Check out Lannae's adorable post for the full story of how she made this yummy dish.

The talented Pamela from Zoomie Station received fermented black beans and asian style noodles from Lanne of Lannae's Food and Travel. Poor Pamela had quite a day and was thrilled to relax and enjoy this yummy looking (and surely tasting) dish.

I was lucky enough to have Katie herself as a secret santa which meant I received a beautiful and thoughtful gift. Straight from France arrived a beautifully packaged container of Quatre Epices (four spices?) which from what I can tell is made of clove, nutmeg, ginger, and some kind of pepper, along with some other authentic and delicious accouterments! With this beautiful package came a recipe for a traditional Alsatian cake that was unique and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Thank you to everyone who played along. There are a few remaining bloggers whose entries will be added as I receive them. The other half of this roundup can be found on the amazing Katie's site: A Thyme for Cooking right HERE!

Happy holidays and Seasoned Eatings to all.

Yule never believe what the daring bakers have done this time...

What do you get when you stick 4 Jews in the kitchen and ask them to create a traditional Christmas recipe? Sounds like the beginning to a good joke, huh? Nope. Just this month's daring bakers challenge!

I don't know what the best part of this months challenge was... It could have been the fact that it was a humongous hilarious disaster, or maybe because it was absolutely hysterical to cook with my sister in law and her boyfriend, or maybe because I learned that a sheet cake should cool completely before adding buttercream frosting and rolling it...

Really, the list could go on forever.

The moral of the story is this month's challenge will go down in Portnoy family history as the most entertaining cooking event thus far. Thanks daring bakers!

The good news is, it looked good after it sat in the fridge to cool overnight, and it actually kind of tasted good, too.

The best part was watching sis-in-law create an updated Mr. Bill and his girlfriend, representing multicultural diversity in true liberal fashion (Thank goodness for her *huge hugs*). And watching her boyfriend D make a nativity scene (can you find baby Jesus?) and a pitch fork carrying gnome, I mean really...does it get better?

Overall, it was an entertaining activity. I can honestly say a good time was had by all (caveat: in between my kitchen temper tantrums) and eating the final product was truly sweet success.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Theres always time for blondies....

Could it be? Am I really posting twice in a day? Really now, I shouldn't set such high expectations for myself but I couldn't resist sharing photos of the delicious treat I whipped up this morning for one of my most favorite faculty members birthdays.

Dark, milk and peanut butter chip blondies

After a brief online search for the perfect recipe, I decided to adapt a recipe I found several times and it was not only easy but fast, my favorite way to bake!

In fact, I would say it's 2 easy. And here's why: if you have 2 cups of brown sugar, 2 sticks of butter, 2 eggs, , 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 2 cups of flour, and 2 cups (for a gluttonous result, use at your discretion!) of assorted chips (peanut butter, milk/dark chocolate) you are in business.

Add ingredients in order (first blending sugar and butter then add other ingredients) until you get to the flour. Stir flour in by hand and then add accoutrement's (chips) and you are in business. Pop it the bakers edge or a buttered/sprayed 9x13 pan in the oven at 350 for about 25-30 minutes and enjoy.

And just in case you beat me home, they are on the top shelf in the aluminum foil honey!

Family dinners

We were blessed to have G's sister and sis's boyfriend as visitors this weekend and between window admiring up fifth avenue, shoving our way to the tree at Rockefeller Center and me trying to tie up lose ends from this semester at work/school, we found time to create some scrumptious culinary delights.

Pan seared pumpkin gnocchi and sage butternut squash with roasted rosemary and garlic lamb chops

Because I know that our little feminist loves everything seasonal (especially squash) I adapted a favorite recipe by adding *pumpkin* gnocchi in lieu of the traditional type. It was beyond delicious, as evident by the speed at which we devoured it and the silence that accompanied!

Forgive this short post but stay tuned for the big daring bakers reveal later this week. Our house guests this weekend were instrumental in creating this months challenge, especially in the entertainment department.

Oh! Also, stay tuned for the big seasoned eatings reveal where my partner in crime and I show you all of the gifts that fellow bloggers sent around the globe and the resulting delicious creations. It's a big week =)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Warm winter meals

Just because the weather has turned and we are all bundled up in our poofy coats down to our ankles does not mean we have to skimp out on the remnants of healthy eating from a few short months ago, right? That's what I keep trying to tell myself!

Wilted Spinach Salad with Caramelized Red Onions, Farmers Cheese, Adirondack Blue Potatoes and Salmon Glazed with Dijon and Dill

Although the howling wind and my freezing fingertips tell me otherwise, I am determined to at least try to create comforting meals that have some semblance of healthful benefits! And that is precisely where this little concoction came from... I admit, this was our lunch on Sunday and I'm only just now getting to post about it, but it is much easier than it sounds and is a great way to keep some vitamins in your diet when the only thing that really sounds appetizing is mashed potatoes and soup! (Not that they too don't have a myriad of healthful benefits)

We were lucky enough to find some fresh baby spinach at the farmers market last weekend. (Clearly they have a greenhouse!) and along with the usual root veggies the red onions hopped into my basket with the farmer's cheese and adirondack blues (i think they're purple!). It's the same recipe for the salad that I've shared before with the addition of garlic roasted potatoes (from last nights dinner, sliced and sauteed to make them crispy again) and salmon (I caved and went to Whole Foods, don't judge me!). The salmon is the best invention ever. Kosher salt, pepper, slather on some dijon, sprinkle some dill, broil for about 15 minutes et voila! Another creation worthy of a glass of pinot....or maybe just some hot chocolate!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

What we've been up to is 1, 2, 3....

1: Our first snow!!!

How exciting for little Lola to romp around with her boyfriend Hudson and enjoy this wonderful treat:

2: The second night of the holiday of light

Thanks to sister Stef for getting us this adorable Menorah as a wedding gift several years back. The tulips and lady bugs make me smile:

3: Just three ingredients and 15 minutes to a homemade cookie (thank goodness for my amazing friend Amanda at CrazyMomQuilts/Cooks)

No, I did not stutter. These delicious cookies were in my mouth about 15 minutes after I decided to make them and yes, they were cooked!

So easy I think Lola might be able to make them:

1 c. peanut butter (we use chunky)
1 c. sugar (i used 1/2 brown 1/2 reg.)
1 egg

preheat oven to 350. mix ingredients. place on a cookie sheet. press down with fork to make cute grooves. bake for 10-12 minutes. eat!

But of course we had to go a little nuts and add some dark chocolate because, really, isn't everything better with a bit of chocolate?

It's been a busy few weeks around our house, but please stay tuned for the big round up from our super successful and exciting Seasoned Eatings contest!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Spicy Story

About how we are all connected, at least through food =)

Check it out here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Daring Bakers: Take Two

When the recipe of the month was introduced as potato bread my stomach turned. For some reason, the thought of working with live yeast has been a source of unwarranted yet persistent fear. Perhaps that is why the bread machine still lives on our floor and not in our kitchen.

This is my dad. I hope he is okay with his mug floating around on international waters but I really wanted to call attention to his apron for turkey carving. It reads: I'm still a hot babe, it just comes in flashes.

But I digress, yet again! For this is the very reason I joined this group of culinary dare face my fears come flopped flan or deflated soufflé!

So in honor of national turkey day, and the fact that I was now in my parents glorious kitchen, which as a side note is likely larger than our ENTIRE home, I decided to face my fears head on.

The recipe called for potatoes, active yeast, salt, lots of flour, and water. Easy enough, right? Um, ok. The dough was sticky. Not bubble gum sticky but more of a newly poured cement meets oatmeal. Needless to say, it was an adventure.

However, as luck would have it, this sticky lump of scariness was eventually turned into something rather edible. In fact, you might call it delicious. I know darling hubby sure did!

The outcome? One medium sized rosemary and red onion foccacia...

Rosemary and Red Onion Foccaccia (taking a nod from the bakery window!)

...and a single, perfect loaf of doughy potato-y cheddar cheese bread.

Gooey Potato Cheddar Bread (giving a nod to darling hubby who will eat anything I make with the addition of cheese)

Et voila! This last minute addition to our thanksgiving table was a welcomed one. And ironically enough, one that I would like to make again!

p.s. Potato cheddar cheese bread made for some spectacular turkey sandwiches the next day, highly recommended!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Are you spicy enough?

It's about that time of year... The time we reconvene with our couch, our loved ones, and our stove. The summer heat is but a distant memory and we are left with the excitement of the holidays on the horizon.

Eat your heart out parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme...

As a novice blogger and baker, I thought that a neat way to celebrate the holiday with my new friends would be a kind of global sharing of local flavors with an added element of gifting and surprise. I mean, what's better than sharing good food with good friends and a surprise present to boot?

So after many conversations with the lovely Katie from a Thyme for Cooking, we are going to try a new adventure in blogland with the help of YOU, called "Seasoned Eatings."

Turkish viagra and other delights (If only I were kidding)

Cute name, but what the heck does it mean?

1) Your task is to find one spice, that is either local to your area or is representative of your cooking style.
The Spice Market in Istanbul (Summer 2005)

2) Then you package it up and send it off to the blogger you are assigned to (this is how we will maintain the element of surprise). With the package you send to your secret recipient you will add a recipe for the spice you are including.

3) Then, when you receive your package in the mail you get to post a picture of the package and your reaction to the mystery ingredient.

4) The second post (or the first if you are uber-motivated) will be the picture of the recipe you made with your ingredient.

Easy? Kind of. Fun? Heck yeah!

So come on! Join us in our international culinary gift-a-thon. Leave a message in the comments section if you are willing to play!

Now who's in for some seasoned eatings?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

When store bought won't do. Or, How to embarass yourself at dinner.

We enjoyed dinner with our friends at Mexicana Mama Centro just the other night and I think I slightly embarrassed hubby when I buried my head in their bowl of special salsa before my food even arrived. Thank goodness, because it just so happens the salsa was truly the star of the meal. Roasted smoky poblano peppers were blended into creamy goodness, honestly a salsa like no other...

Almost Mexicana Mama's Secret Salsa
So what's a girl to do if she can't afford the price tag of a daily dose of this goodness? Why make some herself, of course!

Poblano peppers are roasted with the seasons final heirloom tomatoes and a head of rocambole garlic. Then the whole gang heads to an immersion blender to get further acquainted with the help of some delphino cilantro and hello secret salsa revealed! (Whole recipe coming soon!)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Faux fried chicken and pan seared harvest gnocchi, I mean c'mon... does it get any better?

Hubby was away on business for a bit this week, which gave me time to catch up on some much needed girl time and to recreate a culinary favorite from years passed. Ever since Bouchon opened in NYC, I have been obsessed with the menu's local features while maintaining a very international feel.

This gnocchi recipe, adapted from my hero Thomas Keller at Bouchon, was a crowd favorite. The addition of my faux fried chicken sealed the deal for a delicious dinner that was enjoyed by all!

Since there were plenty of leftovers (that's what happens when you cook for 10 and serve 4!) I recreated this dish for hubby's return and added some homemade cream sauce and it was even better the second day around.

The secret for second night success is reheating the gnocchi in a nonstick pan until it starts to get crunchy around the outside again and heating the chicken in the oven at a high enough heat that the crunch remains.

At any rate, it was a successful family favorite that will surely be revisited again soon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Color me lucky

After the week we've had (and yes, it's only Tuesday), there is something rewarding about coming home to a dinner that looks like this:
Yes mom, you see? We are eating our veggies! Those beautiful purple cauliflower maintain their color when roasted. They are a bit more mild and softer than their white counterparts and are truly delicious roasted at 350 with some good olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper...

Doesn't this just make the most delicious side dish to some roasted leg of lamb? I'm drooling from memory :)

Out of the oven, these guys maintain their vibrant color and get tossed with a bit more seasoning and some fresh parsley or cilantro and viola! Dinner is served.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Early this morning the world lost a very special woman. If you never had the chance to meet her, you are surely missing one of the worlds most brilliant smiles, one of the warmest hearts and one of the most genuine friends to have graced our earth. And this morning, she lost a long and hard battle with the most evil form of cancer.

From left to right: Mom & Sherry

I'm sure I knew Sherry in utero. She and my mom were best friends, sisters even, from the age of 13. However, one of my first and fondest memories of our Sherry is from one of her visits from Canada where she would arrive laden with Smarties and after drenching us with hugs and kisses would ask us to relive the past few months so she knew every detail of our lives.

She was the only one who could take a splinter out of my finger without me flinching and the only one with whom my mom ever smiled so much.

She was an angel, and the way her and my mom could light up a room when they were together is the single biggest tragedy of our losing Sherry.

Everyone deals with losing someone differently. And although you cannot see the tears in their hearts, it does not mean that they aren't in terrible pain.

The reason for this post is to memorialize Sherry in the only way I know how, with words. I only ask that in her honor we take a step back and value the individual way in which each person mourns to respect what we all must do when we lose such a beloved friend.

To my mom I wish strength and love to guide her through these awful days and take solace in knowing that my wonderful dad is there to support her. I only wish I could send a hug across the country...

I pray that we all remember to cherish what is near and dear while we have it, because at the end of the day our memories are how we keep loved ones alive.

She was entirely too young, with entirely too much life to live, and will be remembered by friends and family as the brilliant light that shines so brightly in our hearts.

Goodbye Sherry. I know that you are in a better place now with no more pain and I know that when I see you again we will dance and smile and talk as if no time had passed at all. I love you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a, er...wrong super hero...

I thought I would share with you a photo of our little Lola dressed up as batgirl (ahem, grrrl) for Halloween this year. There is an annual parade at Washington Square Park every year where all the dogs don their favorite costumes (sheah right, it's really us nutso owners!) and strut their stuff. There are many other photos to share, perhaps I'll post them in the days to come.

This superdog is on the lookout for new seasonal recipes. In fact, inspired by the colors of the season we are sharing with you our favorite new concoction, sweet potato chips.

Crunchy, sweet, salty and smokey. These sweet potato chips take a nod from their fry cousins and are sliced thinner and in circles to ensure maximum surface area for the smoky cumin to rest and guarantees a slight crisp on both sides.

There's no trick to this recipe and I guarantee it becomes a beloved treat in no time!

Happy Halloween, happy seasonal eating, and don't forget to save a 3 musketeers for me!

*Thanks to super hubby for the creative title, and the most delicious roasted chicken in the world last night for dinner.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The little kitchen that could: Daring Bakers, take one!

If you had told me a year ago that I would be writing a blog I would have looked at you like you had 17 heads and then asked you for a definition of a blog...

And again, if you had added that I might be using my oven to make sweet things as part of a baking club I would have really thought you had fallen off your rocker.

Well my friend, the times they are a changin'.

This month I had my first foray as a daring baker. What is a daring baker, you ask? Is this merely a ploy to get out of grading papers and writing up research? (How dare you!)

Pumpkin Bostini Goodness

The daring bakers is a lovely group of folks started by one of my favorite blog friends Lis of La Mia Cucina and her adorable parter in crime Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice. These lovely ladies became friends through the pages (that's web pages to you) and guided each other through their first daring bake off, pretzels, waaaay back when. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So now, once a month the group gets together to make one (seemingly complex) recipe at the same time. I never knew I could look forward to a virtual bake-off and I am!

The recipe this month is a take on Boston Cream Pie and calls for homemade custard(don't ask me how many eggs, just eat it!), a slice of orange chiffon cake, and a drizzle of chocolate glaze.

Well, we aren't supposed to *change* the recipe, but I cannot entirely follow the rules so.... mine became a pumpkin chiffon cake with salted pumpkin seeds. A puree of pumpkin was made from fresh farmers' markets pumpkins and the seeds were toasted and salty, super delicious with the creamy sweet custard.

In this final picture you can see I even used a pumpkin cookie cutter for the chiffon cake. Or maybe you can't? Either way, this recipe was over the top and such fun to make. Stay tuned for next months endeavor!

For the recipe, click here!

...And I almost forgot! Please check out the rest of the gorgeous takes on this classic dessert at the daring bakers blogroll :)
Happy salivating!

Friday, October 26, 2007

A new twist on an old favorite

It has been a while since I last posted, and for that I apologize. It seems as if the title of this post would have been appropriate if it were instead called "The Perfect Storm." Maybe I'll repost under that heading a bit later.

Meanwhile, I wanted to share with you a weekend favorite at our house before the weekend gets started. My hope is that maybe someone will want to make this yummy breakfast this weekend and with a proper heads up, you will have time to stop at the (farmers'??) market on the way home and be prepared for tomorrow's breakfast.

This may not be the prettiest of photos, but this breakfast was a knock your socks off kind of creation. (And not the way the Yanks feel about their arch nemesis.)

Huevos Rancheros a la Port-ment

First, some clarification:
Port=us. Huevos rancheros=just plain happiness on a plate, or if you want to get technical it means ranch eggs. And we live in an apartment, thus port-ment. Capesh?

Now we often stumble into a place like chat'n'chew where they plate their huevos on a bed of nacho chips, or sometimes we are all fancy-like and visit the culinary genius Flay at Mesa Grill where they have all sorts of renditions of this goody.

However, in our house, we can make it however we please...which means we can use the spicy fresh chorizo from the farmers market fried up with some onions, garlic and a fresh heirloom tomato, make the eggs with dill, squash and garlic, and then pile it all on a thick slice of grain bread to scoop up all the liquid from it's upstairs neighbors. Grate some fresh smoked gouda on top and you are in business. A pile of goodness, if you ask me!

So there's a fun weekend breakfast for you. I hope someone enjoys it, because we sure do!

In other news, we are going on a field trip (i.e., a gaggle of my favorite friends are using this as an excuse not to write up much overdo research) to see Emeril today and although he isn't my favorite chef I am excited to see a BAM! in person. If I happen to snap a photo with my phone I'll post it for anyone who is interested.

Otherwise, happy Friday and in honor of our southern breakfast...ya'll come back now, ya hear?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Candy Corn Inspired


When I stopped into the local Walgreens a few weeks ago I was greeted with an onslaught of Halloween treats. Whereas usually I would seize this excuse to stock up on mini-snickers and three musketeers to freeze and eat slovenly over the next month--the stockpile in my freezer reminded me that there really was no vacancy!

Alas! What's a girl to do? Improvise I suppose.

And so as I payed for my greeting card or toilet paper, or whatever it was that I was buying, those little devilish candy corn winked at me and I knew what I must do.

(Caveat: I actually don't like candy corn. I think it's like eating sweetened lipstick. And no, I have never tried eating lipstick, much less the sweetened variety!)

And so here you have it. Another recipe for my beloved bakers edge pan and a great seasonal treat. It's a pumpkin tart like bottom with a chewy brownie like middle and gooey toasted marshmallows on top. Sounds terrible, right? Well as good as it was the first day, it was even better the next.

Stay tuned for the recipe. In the mean time go enjoy this lovely day for me please...the weather is be-au-ti-ful and the farmer's market is bustling with all kinds of goodness!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Colors the way mother nature intended them to be

Write presentation for my students, check.
Grade responses and create rubrics, check.
Finish midterms, check.
Finalize paper for psychometric theory, check.
Write up research...check, kind of.
Post about something fun we have made/eaten as of late to remind my mom that I am, in fact, getting some sort of nourishment while I work 12 hours a day, OOPS!

It is rather easy to get bogged down with life, but it is more important (in my humble opinion, of course) to remember to take time to enjoy a meal with those you love, namely the darling hubby.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup*
(I like mine with a ripe cherry tomato for a contrasting sweet, fresh burst of flavor)

Last week a near perfect butternut squash jumped into my hands while I strolled the farmers market, only to be neglected on our kitchen table for the coming week. Thankfully they stay fresh, unlike the countless tomatoes I have had to turn into sauce after certain neglect.

(Hubsband is more old fashioned. i.e., if it ain't broke, don't fix it!)

Last weekend was it's time to shine as we created a thick and creamy butternut squash soup. It was originally going to be used in a fun gnocchi recipe that we will share later in the season, but this soup was really outstanding. If you don't trust me, ask my sister in law who nearly swooned after trying some. And the best part? It's so very simple.

*Follow the bold title for the recipe =)