A novice cooks plates for the week, w/ pics.
Background: I'm a fine dining guy, last year I probably spent enough for a nice sports car on dinning out. Heck, in November I probably spent 2k alone. New years resolution was to spend less on going out to eat (without sacrificing good food!). So I figured I'd give this cooking thing a try. Also helps out with the winter depression I get in the not-so-warm-although-globally-getting-there NJ. My girlfriend is my co-chef. I'm 25, and like long walks on the beach and getting caught in the rain. I have no cats.
Eggs Benny with Hollandaise, My favorite breakfast. First time poaching eggs....don't laugh
(not sure how this uploading pictures thing works, so bear with me, I might just end up linking to photobucket or flickr)
Then I made some homemade apple/pear syrup....I tried to replicate a dish I had in Brussels at a place called the Belga Queen. It was meatballs with "sirop de liege" over it. Well the sauce took 9 hours, and 20lbs of fruit, but it came out great!
to pass the time...
had to strain that and reduce it....
not so good presentation, and while the sauce duplicated perfectly, I think I should have mixed it with the meatball stock to make it not as "hit you so sweet"...all in all success in reproducing the dish, from a recipe that I had to translate from french...and hope it was an accurate recipe!
Then, last night I tried my hand at homemade pasta...raviolis.
I made 2 different fillings...a meat with some left over meatload chop meat, and a recipe I forget where I got it.
and wolfgang puck.com recipe for a cheese filling with farmers, goat, and marscapone cheese and potato.
rolling out the dough was the toughest part, and I've since ordered a pasta roller. but it came out GREAT with a brown butter balsamic sauce...with some toasted walnuts!
And tonight I made a pork tenderloin (medallions) with a balsamic honey sauce. Marinaded the tenderloin all day, game out real tender, but the sauce was "eh", but only took a few minutes to whip up.
That's it for now....Any advice on a better glaze or sauce for the tenderloins would be appreciated! i was going to use the apple/pear reduction, but wanted to try something new....maybe next time.
When I'm making a fruit based sauce with pork loin, I find that I need something acid and pungent to cut through the sweet mildness. One thing I do is to add about a cup of dry white wine to the braising liquid. Another flavor that works very well with pork and fruit is mustard. And your photos all look great. Looks to me like you're a damn fine cook.
Our favorite way to make pork tenderloin is to brine it whole overnight in 1-ground up granny smith, 1 or 2 c unfiltered apple cider, 1/8-1/4 c chili powder, peppercorns, 1/4 c salt, 1/4 c sugar, water to cover. Grill over charcoal, slice and serve with chunky applesauce. Delicious!
Not sure, I'm a big steak guy, so something simple and steaky.
I also have some friends coming over for dinner soon, I plan on a make your own brushetta bar type appetizer with some different toppings.
Ravioli for main course, a salad, havent figured out a veggie yet....and maybe since ill be making the raviolis te day before, concetrate on some desserts.
I had some people over for dinner a couple of weeks ago after I felt I mastered french onion soup and that came out GREAT. THe stuffed chicken main course was OK, butnothing to tell mom about.
Ok..please tell me that you sat down to brekafast like that on a weekend! Because if you have the time to sit to nice meal like that on a weekday, I am very jealous!
Your food looks very tasty. I too have recently been bitten by the homemade pasta bug and made Marcella's bolognese with homemase taglitatelle over the weekend...but we ate it before I could take a picture.
Keep cooking! You're doing great!
I dig on german food too. My family (grandparents and great greandparents) is Belorussian but grew up in Germany, so I get a taste of that food a lot. My grandfather was polish, my fathers side all Slovak.
I made this a little while back from a recipe my great aunt who lives in Munchen gave me...she said this is like steak and potatoes over there.
schweinebraten which is pork with gravy and knodel which are potato dumplings. Sauerkraut, cabbage and kielbasa.
I live in a very polish/belorussian small town and I'm lucky enough to have I think 3 now...european provisions markets with fresh perogies, kielbasa and the like.
if anyone has any Bavarian/Belorussian recipes, I'll take em! Grandma is getting picky in her old age, and with no teef, even more pickier.
Made crepes this morning. Since another resolution this year was to not waste....i used some left over apples and pears I had for filling and put the apple pear syrup I made over it.
Made in an omlette pan, they came out GREAT. real thin and delicate. I cheated a little and flipped using the go from a the pan to the plate then back on the pan method...worked like a charm.
here is a picture.
I searched on here for a recipe for crepes,
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons melted butter or oil
mixed real well, blended even and then let sit for an hour in the fridge.
for the filling, just diced some fruit and sauteed in a pan with sugar and cinnimon...nothing special at all although next time Ill use yogurt, or whipped cream, but since i just kind of threw it together...
For the apple pear syrup, check out this post
Filet with twice baked potato
I tried my hand with a new cast iron grill pan...outside of making my house a smoke machine, it came out well. the cut of meat is "eh", but it was Wegmans so I didnt have high expectations. I am also a steak brat...
I don't think i'll use the cast iron grill pan again, I just like my Weber so much better.
Made some garlic bread
I've been trying to use all fresh foods, so the chives the parsley the garlic parm cheese, were all fresh chopped/grated
good one, Kelli! LOL!
RPM, bravo on your experiment. You might want to check out our Cookbook of the Month, (see the sticky at the top of the Home Cooking site). I have so much fun exploring new recipes each month, and trading tips/ideas. I started making my own stocks from scratch as a result, and I find that it's a great way for me to delve into different kinds of cooking that might not jump out at me initially.
For your bruschetta bar, think about a toasty pumpkin seed dip. Toast up some pumpkin seeds in a sautee pan (with just a touch of olive oil) and blend with some red onion, tomatoes, a little hot pepper for kick (Aleppo is great here, if you have it), a little garlic. I made this for Christmas Eve after discovering it from Martha Stewart (!!!) and everyone RAVED. Quite unusual as a spread, I think - hearty, just a little smoky, delightful.
Do you hear the paws clapping. Very nicely done.
Three egg Benney on one English, nice idea and well executed. The raviolis looked great (please tell us you do not separate eggs with that little gadget though. you seem waaaay better than that), steak looked great (nice touch placing the garlic bread under the broiler, omelette looked yummy.
So, other than the meatballs, everything looks like it came out perfect.
So from one NJ guy to another, go get 'em. With all the calories, hopefully you exercise a bunch. :-)))
Hey!!!! if it wasn't for me wowing everyone with YOUR recipe for french onion soup at a dinner party, this whole interest in pots and pans might not be so successful!!
Thanks again for that french onion soup recipe you posted, really really good.
as far as separating the eggs....my souschef (girlfriend) bought that little egg separated from crate and barrel so I sometimes humor her. But she did get quite the ribbing for that...haha.
now teach her two methods jfood learned years ago.
1 - Place allthe cracked eggs in a bowl, then reach in with clean hands and scoop the yolks out
2 - Crack the eggs into your hand, which is over the bowl and the yolks will slide through your fingers.
Neither is pretty, but very effective
Glad you liked the onion soup. Could you send jfood a NJ Sloppy Joe please. What a deli wasteland up here in CT.
PS - Giants look good.
Tonights dinner, since it was the coldest day of the year so far in NJ....
Homemade cream of tomater soup (ok....I used canned tomatoes) with sourdough grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches.
I'm not a big tomato soup fan, but it came out better than cambells select (my only comparison) haha. Girlfriend, who would be first to say how it sucked (like her cut of meat the night before) said it was best soup she has ever had, maybe even beating the french onion we made.
She made the grilled cheese, and I have to say...maybe it was the bottle of Merryvale Merlot, or just the cold weather..but they were certainly the best grilled cheese I've ever had. haha.
Nothing special, just fresh white american and bacon (I cooked the chopped bacon in the soup stock pot, scooped it out leaving the "good stuff" in there for the soup, saving the bacon for the sandwiches)
Tomorrows a day off, I'm thinking about something in these little mini cast iron casserole pots I bought.
Okay, tell us the recipe for the canned tomato soup, with a little more details.
I'm guessing there is dairy in there, how much and is it cream? Any alchohol, basil... please? Beautiful pictures. A rainy day here and tomato soup and cheese sandwiches grilled to the likeness of yours, seems mighty fine right now.
re: chef chicklet
I admit that most of my recipes are a botching together of something I saw at 2am on the food network or the like.....this one's base was an Emeril recipe, however, I saw on another show that since they were going to use bacon, to cook the bacon in the same pot as the soup was going it....take the bacon out and leave the ...."good stuff" in the pot. then continue with the carrots, onion, celery.
Canned whole tomatoes crushed by hand....honestly, the tomatoes at wegmans looked horrible so I opted to just go with canned...next time I'll do it with jersey fresh tomatoes in season.
all fresh herbs, added at the end with the cream (heavy cream, 1 cup)
I used a portable hand blender while it was in the pot before adding the creme and basil last.
I made (girlfriend made) sandwiches with the left over sliced bacon and used the rest for garnish in the soup.
I used organic chicken stock.
no alcohol. Unless you count the bottle of wine we had while cooking....
no fancy cheese either, didn't want to experiment this round....just white american...next time I'll try something a little richer.
hey everyone- i was reading up on canned tomatoes yesterday- supposedly the best of the best is San Marzano tomatoes- Cento sells them-....I think I am going to try your soup- it looked tasty. Did it have any kick to it, any Essence? It was Emeril's recipe after all... maybe we should start a couples cooking club- anyone up for it? Once a month?
No essence....the way I see it, tomato soup should taste like tomato soup, BUT, I want it to be like "I don't know what it is....but this tomato soup tastes great" if you know what I mean. I think the bacon helped, good stock helped. (homemade stock would have been better) and maybe some better tomatoes (which I'd have to research) would have helped, but those are the only areas I see for "improvement" on this recipe.
change it around any more and its "kinda like a tomato soup"
Whipped up some boneless "Ah-So" ribs tonight on whim with some brown rice and a couple of asian veggies.
If you don't know what Ah-So is check out this post.
some pictures (of course)
"how did you prepare them"
- probably the wrong way! haha.
I got a cheap cut of pork ribs, ~4.99...got rid of the tough tissue, then like I was fileting a fish, I took a cut off the top. cut in half lengthwise,julienned that (if you can still call it that for meat?) and then for a little more meat, I sliced the meat out in between the ribs and did the same.
put it in a bowl and poured about 1/4-1/3 bottle of Ah-So sauce in until it looked like it was glowing (as soon as you see it....you'll know what I'm talking about) and hand mixed with a little soy and pepper.....a tiny bit of oil in the pan (next time I'll use sesame oil) and just kept it on medium until the ah-so was caramelizing or burning just a little (hey, I wanted it to taste just like the chinese place!)
you really can't cook anything else in the pan as the ah-so is gooey and just takes over.
Bravo, RPMcM!! I'm thinking you graduated Summa from the CIA and are just joshing us. You're a natural chef....everything looks perfect. Lucky GF.
Just remember, napkin and fork on the left, knife(blade facing dish) and spoon on the right. (I'm a detail person, it's in the genes.... ; )
Thoroughly impressed, RPMcM! Novice indeed. Pheh. Not much, I don't think! Beautiful plating skills, even with something like eggs bennie!
I cannot believe you took 9 hours on that apple-pear syrup. You're a better person than me. :-)
Re: the pork tenderloin - I always like a mixture of mustard, apricot preserves, and a bit of cider vinegar for some tang.
Ok - After a week of being sick, the only cooking that was done last week was that off my various nurses homemade chicken soup, girlfriend cooked some amazing chicken soup on Wed., although I couldn't move enough to take pictures...and not to be outdone in the nurturing dept. Mom brought over some chicken soup...so with 2 healthy doses, I am better.
Friday was a still recovering out-to-eat night....
Saturday, in a deal never to go to Olive Garden (aka Hell) again, we made Pasta Fagioli Soup and I also "attempted" to make some breadsticks.
The soup, which was supposed to be an olive garden copy cat, was a homerun, amazing. Although, since we are getting brave with soup, (and without gloating, getting "good" with soup) we modified it quite a bit, making it not so think and a little more flavorful. A few extra cans of v8 and some good beef broth that weren't called for, and a little of this and that (hey it IS soup isn't it?)
Now....the breadsticks.....Oi....Simple right?
Here is the recipe I tried to follow
1 1/3 cups of water
4 tsp soft butter
4 cups of flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
mix, knead, roll out into shape, let rise for 45 minutes (covered)
brush with butter, a little salt sprinkle
bake in pre-heated 400 oven for 15 or so minutes
brush with butter and sprinkle with some garlic powder.
Well, to quote the girlfriend...."Ugh they taste like flour"
what did I do wrong? I added the yeast into the mix last, and hand kneaded for the better of 10 minutes...let rise for 45 minutes, although they didnt rise much. They just tasted not fluffy at all, but more "biscuit" like......HELP!!!! I used regular (i think) yeast in a jar (they were out of the packets)
I add the yeast to the warm(80+/-) water and stir to dissolve. You should see bubbles forming in approx. 4-5 minutes. I would not add the salt directly into the water with that yeast, as the salt will negatively affect the yeast growth.
You can mix it in with the dry ingredients, if you know for a fact that your yeast is fresh and viable, but it is safer to bloom it first. Adding the dry yeast into the dry ingredients, w/o blooming, will impede the fermentation of the bread by a few minutes.
You might also want to substitute the same amount of instant(rapid rise) yeast, as it starts to work faster.
The time that you allow the bread to ferment will also effect the taste of the finished product. 45 minutes seems amazing shot time to allow for fermentation, as I would suggest that you add a additional 90-120 minutes.
I would also let the shaped bread sticks proof another 30-45 minutes, but you can use this time to preheat the oven/baking stone.
OK, recovering from a dinner party last night....
A caprese salad
French Onion Soup
Homemade filet mignon raviolis
garlic and parm Roasted asparagus
Kickbut garlic bread
Tiramisu in chocolate bowls w/ choc. covered strawberries
a couple of bottles of wine
we were VERY surprised that the chocolate bowls came out good.....VERY, we had even went to the store to buy dishes to plate the tiramisu as after looking at the balloons, we figured they would just break.
well...1 of them kind of broke, but we plated anyways. but the rest.....I guess because we spent the time to temper and what not.....REALLY held up...i mean..you couldnt break it with a fork. (i'm a metal shaping/welding/etc. enthusiast, so I compare the tempering to the same as forging and tempering metal/steel, makes it stronger haha)
the tiramisu, we added a little vanilla extract to, and came out great. for the lady fingers, we just made a dip with espresso, fresh (from starbucks) and amaretto, and some sugar. perfect. although next time I may plate with something nutted, maybe toasted almonds to compliment the amaretto.
Oh yeah and I made chocolate martini's in chocolate rimmed glasses, with chocolate chips on the bottom of the frozen glasses too.
I know it has probably gotten old to express disbelief over the notion that you're a "novice" chef, but damnit, your presentation is amazing! You couldn't *possibly* be a novice chef. I mean, I'm hardly a veteran chef, but I've been cooking for longer than one month (I'm assuming from the original post that you just started this??) and I would never think to do those swirly chocolate designs on the plate that you put your tiramisu, or those sprinkles of (breadcrumbs? Cheese?) on the plate that you have the ravioli and roasted asparagus. Gosh, you could start a restaurant.
Is the asparagus with garlic and parmesan pretty easy to improvise? Like maybe sprinkling the asparagus w/ olive oil, then tossing w/ grated parmesan and minced garlic mixture and roasting at 350 oor 400 sort of thing? Asparagus is not in season, but I'd like to try that in the spring.
Made filet mignon last night as dad dropped off some half decent cuts from a new butcher.....
made some roasted baby potatoes with some rosemary and a little garlic.
girlfriend whipped up some horseradish sauce with fresh horseradish, sour cream, and i think she put a little worchestershire sauce in there.
so, when dad dropped off the filets the other day, he dropped off 2 strip steaks....and since i was home alone yesterday, I figured Id give another shot at the cast iron grill pan.
a little less smoke, due to coating the bottom with salt, but still smoked the house up....ive tried all the seasoning, etc. etc. etc....i guess I'll just keep cooking on it and it will get better.....eventually.
the steak still cooked good.
No pics...for that plate. too hungry.
OK 2 updates in 1.....
Valentines day I made 2 desserts for my valentine to choose from....(she had a little of both!)
homemade Strawberry shortcake, with some kickbutt whipped cream I "whipped" up. (nothing special, I just like homemade cream)
and chocolate lava cake (couldnt believe how easy it was!) with vanilla ice cream and chocolate covered strawberry
last night i had my parents over for dinner, partly moms birthday and my father is laying his mother to rest today so I didn't want them cooking.
I made a caprese salad again
appitizer of pesto shrimp
main course of veal with a marsala cream sauce with white truffle oil and capers over linguini and a side of roasted garlic parm asparagus.
and for dessert.....
"Bill Gates Peanut Butter Chocolate Mud" (because its too damn rich!)
Nicely done, McMurphy! I am a HUGE egg fan, w/ eggs bene being my personal fave too. Looks delicious.
Now I'm totally craving eggs. Guess I know what I'm having for lunch!
Great pics. Did the bowls have any residual taste of latex? I am planning on making chocolate bowls for an upcoming dinner party and I like how easy they are to make but have reservations about using balloons because of the taste.
What a fun post to read!!! Thanks so much for sharing. It was a pleasure to vicariously experience your cooking explorations! I'll look forward to more.