Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adventures in Ham- Round #1

Thank you Bon Appetite for inspiring me to spend my brother's money. Christopher likes to come over to my house a lot, and I like it to, but it does usually involve him being hungry. So on Monday when he was over, but not as hungry as usual, we looked through the new issue of Bon Appetit and it reminded me, with their new article about ham, how much I wanted a leg on my counter. See over the holidays this past year I was lucky enough to be at Joanne's house when her friends Chris and Pam and their great kids came over for dinner. Chris brought this Virginia ham he had picked up on a recent trip. It was wonderful. Basically an American version of Prosciutto but cheaper. So on Monday I convinced (not too difficultly) Christopher that he needed one and I would split it with him. So online we went and now 3 days later it is on the counter
Now it is not exactly the one I planned on. We ordered a Edwards Wigwam Brand Bone-in cooked Virginia Ham. It is quite tasty. But I think what I will get next time is their New American Surryano ham. You might ask...What is the difference? Well the Wigwam ham is salted, covered in brown sugar, and smoked then dry aged for a year. The Surryano ham is smoked for 7 days with hickory wood then aged for 400 days. From the description in the catalogue the Surryano looks more like European hams. But I will know for sure when I get one. Eat up boys there is more meat coming!

Join us as we do all that we can do with this great piece of meat.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Moms, please make your own baby food.

I really believe that one of the best things you can do for your kids is feed them well. That starts from the first baby food they eat. I made all of Aveline's baby food and used this great book Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel as a guide. It really is easy, fast, cheap, and much healthier than store bought food. Just look at the color of homemade peas and the store bought ones side by side and you will see .

I use a lot of frozen veggies and fruit for the purees and as the baby gets older I blend up less salty versions of what we eat for dinner and freeze it for the baby food. I also think it's important to limit the sugar that a baby gets. The first foods that I gave both of my girls were vegetables. I started with carrots then week by week added things like green beans, broccoli, squash, etc. One of Colette's favorites is squash and spinach. I use plain Greek yogurt instead of fruit flavored ones and they both love it. We are training their pallets from the first things they eat. Don't forget to give them a wide variety of foods and include things that you might not like. We used things like avocados, asparagus, papaya, and tomatoes. I also added herbs like basil and thyme to give the food some complexity so that they would not want just bland food when they got older.
I am not sure if this is being helpful or hindering but it is cute.

One of my girls favorite recipes from the book...

Lovely lentils
makes 5 portions
suitable for freezing
7-9 months

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tlbs chopped celery
1 tlbs vegetable oil
1/4 cup split red (or any split variety) lentils
1 medium sweet potato (8 oz) peeled and chopped
1 3/4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Saute the onion, carrots, and celery in the oil for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the lentils and sweet potatoes and pour in the stock or water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer, covered, for 20 mins. Puree in a blender.

~Lentils are good, cheap source of protein. They also provide iron, which is very important for brain development, particularly between the ages of six months and two years. Lentils can be difficult for young babies to digest and should be combined with plenty of fresh vegetables, as in this recipe. You can transform this tasty puree into a delicious soup for the family by adding more stock and some seasoning.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Robby's Tuna Melt

SO, I came home Friday to a great surprise. Robby was making me lunch. I know it is a rare occurrence but he was really putting a lot of effort into it and I was so famished by 2:00 that it was the best thing he could have done for me at the time. Most of the fridge condiments were on the kitchen table and he was working on a Tuna Melt that would incorporate as many of them as possible.

The result was a very good, unique, Tuna Melt that I was very glad to eat. Here is the approximate recipe... Robby correct me if I am wrong.

Robby's Tuna Melt
Serves 2

2 cans albacore tuna, drained
1/2 cup tzatziki
2 tlbs grainy mustard
2 tsp capers
1/2 cup chopped sugar snap peas
1 tlbs sliced green olives stuffed with feta
1 tbls sliced cherry peppers (optional)
1/2 cup grated blue cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
4 slices whole grain bread

Drain the tuna and break it up into a bowl. Add the next 5 ingredients and mix well season with salt and pepper. Top the bread with the tuna mixture and add cherry peppers if you want more spice. Divide the cheese on top of the tuna and broil until brown and bubble.

Of course this recipe taste best when it is made for you unexpectedly by your Husband.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dinner with Nick Malgieri and his new book BAKE!

As a member of the Charm City Cook Book Club I have enjoyed many perks. We are in this months Baltimore Magazine and recently we were invited with a great group of other bloggers to have a pot luck dinner with the James Beard award winning cook book author Nick Malgieri.

Nick Malgieri, former Executive Pastry Chef at Windows on the World, is a 1996 inductee into Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. In 1998 and 1999, he was voted one of the ten best pastry chefs in America by Chocolatier and Pastry Art and Design magazines. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he apprenticed in Switzerland and was subsequently employed at the Hotel de Paris and the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo and at the Reserve de Beaulieu in France. In New York he was Assistant Pastry Chef at the Waldorf Astoria; Executive Chef at Paine Webber, Inc.; and Pastry Chef at the Board Room, a private club.

Bake!, Nick's newest cook book just came out and he is traveling the country to promote it.
The event was put together by Dara Bunjon and was organized as a pot luck. We each brought a dish to share and were able to spend time talking with Nick and trying some of his newest recipes.

The book is beautiful and is a great addition to my collection. I do not own many baking books so this one will get a lot of use. I plan to make the Beef Empanadas tonight. At the dinner Nick made two deserts for us, Tozzetti: Roman Anise, Almond, and Hazelnut Biscotti, and Chocolate Bourbon Cake. Both were wonderful. Please try the recipes below and I encourage you try the book. I plan to cook my way through it.


Unlike most biscotti that are formed into narrow loaves before baking, tozzetti are spread in a pan. After the initial baking, they are cut into narrow strips and dried in the oven until shatteringly crisp.

Makes about 80 thin biscotti

2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups whole blanched almonds, lightly toasted

1 cup whole blanched hazelnuts, lightly toasted

3 large eggs

1 1/3 cups sugar

2 tablespoons Sambuca liqueur

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon aniseed, crushed

One 9 x 13- x 2-inch pan, buttered and lined with buttered foil

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

  1. Stir the flour and baking powder together, then stir in the almonds and hazelnuts and set aside.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the sugar, continuing to whisk for a minute until somewhat lightened. Whisk in the liqueur, vanilla, and aniseed. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in the flour and nut mixture.

  1. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until just firm, about 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack.

  1. When completely cool, slide the slab of baked dough to a cutting board. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut into three 3-inch wide bars, then cut across them to make 1/2-inch thick biscotti. Arrange the cut biscotti on 2 paper-lined pans.

  1. Dry the biscotti until very crisp but still light in color at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes. Cool and store in a tin.


The sweet, mellow flavor of Bourbon has a great affinity for chocolate. Serve this unadorned cake with a little unsweetened whipped cream.

Makes one 8-inch cake, 8 to 10 servings

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%), cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

Pinch of salt

5 large eggs

3 tablespoons best-quality Bourbon

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

One 8-inch round 2-inch deep pan, buttered, bottom lined with a disk of buttered parchment

1. Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, allowing it to sizzle and get really hot. Remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk smooth.

3. In a bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, flour, and salt together; add all the eggs and Bourbon. Whisk together smoothly.

4. Stir the brown sugar into the butter and chocolate mixture and stir into the batter.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake until the center is still soft, but no longer liquid, 25 to 35 minutes.

6. Cool the cake on a rack.

7. To serve the cake, invert to a platter and remove the pan and paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap if not serving immediately.

Copyright © Nick Malgieri 2011, All Rights Reserve