Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Thyme Mushroom Gravy

This is my latest dinner. The bruschetta was the appetizer to this meal, and a fitting one too. These cuts of meat were fantastically tender...I made an herb rub out of salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme leaves, and fresh chopped rosemary. The smell was wonderful. The meat baked in the oven at 450 degrees for about 12 minutes per side. The gravy was made from dried thyme, olive oil, mushrooms, white wine, and chicken broth. The flavor from the white wine was not my favorite; it was a bit fruity...or tangy. The rest of the meal was fantastic. Served with good old frozen mixed vegetables, it was great.


Okay. The bruschetta turned out...amazing. It was basically a crunchy piece of oily bread with a bunch of DELICIOUS on top. Really really good.

Mediterranean Bruschetta

- 12 or more baguette slices, about 1/2 inch thick.
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- Artichoke hearts, drained and chopped. (The original recipe called for a 14 oz. can, but I only had 5 oz. They still turned out ok.
- 2 roasted red peppers, sliced into 1 inch chunks.
- About an 1/8 of a cup of kalamata olives, pitted and quartered.
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
Fresh Parmesan cheese if wanted.

Preheat your broiler. Mine was preset to 550 degrees, which was perfect. Brush both sides of your bread slices with olive oil. Broil them until golden brown, flipping once. In a skillet, saute 2 of the garlic cloves (minced) and the artichokes in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until lightly browned. Add the roasted peppers, olives, vinegar, and peper. Remove from heat. Cut remaining cloves in half, rub on bread for added flavor. Top the baguette slices with red pepper mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

Unfortunately I did not have garlic in the house when I made these, so I subsituted garlic powder instead. I just sprinkled it liberally in the pan with the artichoke hearts. The kids don't seem too upset about the lack of real garlic, do they? All I have to say is, AMAZING! I'm so happy at the results!

Potage Aux Champignons, Ile de France

Otherwise known as, Cream of Mushroom Soup...and something to do with France.

It turned out really well. At first, when the mushrooms were raw, it looked rather repulsive, but once the 25 minutes of cooking were up, it was delicious. I served it with broccoli and biscuits. :)

Sadly, there is no step-by-step, or even a whole recipe for you to follow. I was quite grumpy at the time and didn't feel like recording the whole thing. I did post a picture of the soup with the raw mushrooms in enjoy!

The raw soup:

The finished product:


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


On the menu for the next three nights:

Wednesday Night

- Mushroom soup

- Biscuits

- Leftover sauteed chicken with vegetables

Thursday Night

- Beef tenderloin steaks with mushroom gravy

- Bruschetta

- Some kind of vegetable, possibly broccoli

Friday Night

- Kielbasa sausage w/ cabbage

- Cornbread

- Peas or carrots

I absolutely cannot wait to start cooking all of these! The mushroom soup recipe is from Julia Child's French cookbook; it was the simplest recipe I could find in the entire book. I love making soups. I wanted something easy, yet refined. It looks very very good and I hope it will turn out well.

The bruschetta recipe came from the dentist's office. I was flipping through an issue of La Cucina Italiana and at the very very back, in an ad for extra virgin olive oil, I found this wonderful little bruschetta recipe. It looked so easy and delicious that I just copied it down right then and there. This is why it's so important to carry a pen and paper with you everywhere! Only it might be wise to have something other than a tiny Post-it pad...I had to use three of them for this really short recipe.

The beef tenderloin steaks sound amazing. The same Cooking Light magazine that gave me the pretzel recipe also has a lot of entree recipes. I'm a sucker for good presentation, and the pictures that are in this magazine have had me drooling for around two years. So finally I get to make this delicious-looking dish! I will be posting pictures as the week goes by, and I'll try to do step-by-step if I remember. Ciao!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Soft Pretzels

I actually found this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine that I have. I just read the recipe one day and decided to make them. I rarely make yeast breads, but I was willing to give this one a try. It was a success!

Soft Pretzels

You'll definitely want to have:

- 2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspons sugar
- 1 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cooking spray
- 6 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of the flour and 1 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). Add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. (The dough will still be slightly sticky). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees. Unfortunately my house wasn't anywhere near 85 degrees when I made these, so I stuck the bowl in the oven that had been used a few hours before. It was still slightly warm.) Let rise for 40 minutes or until double in size. A good test is pushing your fingers gently into the dough, and if the dough doesn't spring back, it's risen enough. Punch the dough down (like this, POW!), cover, and let rest for five minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. I did this by forming the dough into a ball, flattening it slightly, and cutting it into 12 wedges. Working with one portion at a time (keeping the remaining pieces covered to prevent drying out), roll each portion into an 18 inch long rope (like Playdoh!) with slightly tapered ends. I didn't really taper my ends, but they still turned out okay. Cross one end of the rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4 inches at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle, fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently (actually really hard) to seal. Place pretzels on a greased baking sheat. Cover and let rise for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, combine the 6 cups of water and the baking soda in a non-aluminum Dutch oven (basically a big stainless steel soup pot). Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer. Gently lower 1 pretzel into the simmering water; cook 15 seconds, flip carefully with a slotted spatula, and cook for another 15 seconds on the other side. I lowered my pretzels in upside down (ends-side-down) to prevent them from coming un-twisted when I turned them over. Transfer the pretzel to a greased wire rack sitting on some paper towels. Repeat until all the pretzels have been...simmered.
Put the pretzels on an ungreased baking sheet sprinkled with the cornmeal. Mix the egg and the water in a little bowl until smooth, and brush over the pretzels. Sprinkle with kosher salt, or a very little bit of sea salt, like I did. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until pretzels are a deep, luscious, golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Yield: A dozen pretzels for your family to enjoy. And believe me, they will! Feel free to play with this a little bit; sprinkle the pretzels with cinnamon and sugar or sesame seeds isntead of salt. I apologize for the lack of step-by-step pictures. Those probably won't be used a whole lot for my recipes...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Food and the Cooking Thereof.

Okay, let me make something clear from the beginning. Most of what I post on this 'cooking blog' will probably not be pure Italian. I like to make up my own stuff, but I plan on trying out new recipes, whether Italian, French, Chinese, or just plain 'ole American. And as far as I'm concerned, all American food has roots from some other country, so most of the time I will be cooking something from overseas. I'll hop over to France now and then for baguettes and ratatouille, Italy for pizza and chicken parmesiano, and China for noodles. Okay, not noodles. And maybe not baguettes. What are baguettes, anyway?

I hope the pictures and recipes I post here will inspire you to do more of your own cooking. There's really nothing like standing in your own kitchen (or your mom's kitchen, depending on how old you are, like me), bending over a stove and stirring something hot and smooth. Not only does cooking and baking make your house smell better (sometimes), but it makes your family happy too! There is absolutely nothing to compare to good, homecooked food. Not all of my stuff will be 100% healthy and lean, but it will all be delicious. I promise!