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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Supper

Sometimes the simplest dishes can be the most satisfying, especially when you are cooking for one. To worm up on this chilly, rainy Sunday, I made a boneless t-bone steak with a salad of spring greens in a simple lemon, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette with apple and cherry tomatoes. For the steak I seasoned it simply with some powder garlic, cumin and salt and pepper and broiled it until medium rare. It was satisfying and hearty. The perfect way to relax before the whirlwind of the week starts up again.

Southwestern Pizza

True to the spirit of the 312 square feet, if not a bit bigger, Chelsea opened up her L.E.S. pad for a creative pizza night with David. We made two delicious pizzas but only managed to clean up one entire pie.
While shopping for dinner, our hostess made the fortuitous mistake of picking up a blended of Monterrey Jack and Colby cheeses, not normally used on pizzas, except of course if you are my mother. A classic pizza of hers was to blend mozzarella with Colby cheese to make a distinct flavor and to save money since colby was cheaper than mozzarella. So Chelsea suggested we make a souther western influenced pizza! It was creative and unique. Below is the adapted version. Pizza is all about improvisation and this was a delicious and excellent example of that.

Southwestern Pizza

1 frozen pizza dough (ours was whole wheat from Whole Foods, priced at a wallet conscious $1.50)
1 can pizza sauce
up to 2-3 cups of shredded cheese a mix of mozzarella, Monterrey Jack and Colby
1-2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
various toppings (we used broccoli and leeks)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet or heat a pizza stone if you have it. We didn't use one. Toss out the dough and brush with oil on both sides. Spread an even layer of sauce, sprinkle with some cayenne pepper. Layer cheese and toppings and prinkle with more cayenne peeper to taste. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbling. If cooking without a stone, you can place the pizza under the broiling for a few minutes at the end of cooking to get that nice browned cheese on top!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Annual Fulbright Dinner

One of the perks of my job is the annual Fulbright hosted evening. When the foreign Fulbright students convene on New York City in early spring, we get the pleasure of having these very talented, interesting individuals over for dinner. It is always an evening of interesting conversation and exchange of ideas, two of the things the IIE really stands for.

For this years evening, I was able to host Stephen, a lawyer from Canada, Tim, an English major from Germany and Ari, an Education Administration student, as well as 312 square feet regulars Octavio and Kelly. The conversation ranged from their experiences studying in the US to the current election season, a topic that has been on the lips of most of my friends. We talked about the merits of the No Child Left Behind bill and the drawbacks of high stakes testing.

I served a meal that drew on mainly on the influence of the Wildwood cookbook from the Pacific Northwest and my New England upbringing. It was a successful meal of Two Color Tomato Salad, Herb Salmon Baked over Salt with Fennel Mashed Potatoes and finished off with old fashioned Apple Brown Betty.

Here are some of the recipes that I cooked.

Fennel Mashed Potatoes

adapted from the Wildwood Cookbook

1 fennel bulbed
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons cracked fennel seeds
4-5 Yukon Gold potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Slice the fennel bulb, add the fennel seeds and cook it over medium-low heat, don't boil the cream, until the fennel is soft, about 30-40 minutes. At the same time boil the potatoes until soft. In a food processor or blender combine, fennel cream mixture and potatoes, add plenty of salt, who doesn't love salty potatoes! and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Apple Brown Betty

5-6 large Granny Smith, Mitsu or other tart baking apple
juice of one lemon
1/2 stick butter
1 1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 granulate sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to the 375 degrees. Generously butter a deep baking dish.
Slice the apples thinly and toss with the lemon juice. Combine the sugars, bread crumbs and spices. Layer a third of the bread crumb mixture onto the bottom of the dish, put half of the apples and dot with butter. Layer another third of the bread crumbs, then apples and dot with the rest of the butter. Top off with the remaining third of the bread crumbs and bake for 40-50 minutes until the apples are soft and the juices are bubbling.

I served this with ginger ice cream from the Chinatown Ice Cream factory!