I saw the sign…

March 16th, 2008

…and I decided where to go to LAW SCHOOL. Ever since I started the law school process of LSATs, personal statements, acceptances (and rejections), I have been very stressed! The decision has been looming, always in the back of my mind, coming out when I would finally start relaxing…frequently, as I was trying to sleep. I have spent a number of nights, restless as my mind raced through all the reasons to go to this school or that…Until last week, I realized that I knew where I should go…

I am moving to CHICAGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am very very very excited!!!!!!!!!!! I love Chicago! Last February, I went to Chicago for the first time and fell in love with the city, even though I had the flu and it was freezing. Of course, I did not base my decision just on my love of Chicago but it is a plus. Last week, I filled out the deposit form, giving them the first installment of what will be a lot of money, and then dropped it into the mail box on the way to the gym. After that I had three signs that reaffirmed my decision:

First, I am one of those crazy multi-taskers when I am at the gym. I must have a book or magazine to flip through (and block the time) while I work out plus I always try to find something to watch. Well, that night the travel channel was doing a segment on Super Dawg in CHICAGO. Second, I was reading an article in Vogue, which mentioned Alinea in CHICAGO. Finally, that night was the season premiere of Top Chef Season 4 in CHICAGO!

If these are not enough, I do not know what is? Isn’t it so fitting that my “signs” were all food related?

In honor of my decision and with some inspiration from the season premiere of Top Chef, I made deep dish pizza this past Friday. It is another butternut squash recipe (shock!). Unfortunately, I do not cook for a Bravo TV show and thus my budget is a bit more limited. It turned out really well. Next time, I would make the bottom crust a bit thicker because as soon as we cut into it, it was like opening the flood gates of cheese and butternut squash yumminess. I guess I will just have to make it a goal to first test all the deep dish in the city and then perfect my own recipe. Of course, that is if I have time to cook while working hard at school…

Butternut Squash-Grape Tomatoes-Ricotta Deep Dish Pizza

Pizza Crust
(adapted from Deep-dish Sausage and Tomato Pizza)

1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water (110° – 115°F.)
a 1/4-ounce package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a large bowl dissolve sugar in water. Sprinkle yeast over water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour, cornmeal, salt, and butter and blend until mixture forms a dough. Knead dough on a floured surface, incorporating as much of remaining 1/4 cup flour as necessary to prevent dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
3. Put dough, in a deep oiled bowl and turn to coat with oil. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

(adapted from Ryan Scott’s Pizza with Escarole, Butternut Squash & Ricotta Salata)

1Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large yellow onions, julienned
1 large butternut squash, peeled, diced (half-inch)
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 ½ cups chicken stock
Salt and white pepper to taste
1 package grape tomatoes
1/4 lb ricotta
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 lb fresh mozzarella, shredded

1. In sauté pan add butter and 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat.
2. Sauté the garlic and crushed red pepper for a minute.
3. Add yellow onions and sweat down until tender.
4. Add butternut squash.
5. Sprinkle with thyme.
6. Cover with chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook until tender (about 20-25 minutes). Once tender remove herbs and season with salt and white pepper.
7. Puree in a food processor, set aside.
8. Add grape tomatoes to sheet pan and roast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes; pull and set aside.
9. Mix ricotta and Italian parsley together.

Putting it together:
1. In a 10’ spring form pan, press the dough into the pan and up the side of the pan for at least 1 ½ inches up the side.
2. Spread the mozzarella on the bottom of the crust.
3. Layer with grape tomatoes, butternut squash puree and ricotta mix.
4. Bake in 500 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

P.S. Do you have left over topping? I had a good amount of butternut squash puree left. I am planning on mixing it with pasta and sprinkle it with Parmesan for dinner tonight!

Two Hot Women and a Quickish Dinner

March 3rd, 2008

Yes, this post is about two hot women with a delicious dinner thrown in to keep your interest. The first hot woman is me, as LyB of And then I do the dishes tagged me with a meme and so I must tell you 7 things about myself. I say hot because after cooking I am normally sweltering. Coming up with seven things is alot harder than I would have thought, so here goes (they are very random):

1. I love art! I tend to crave art exhibits almost as badly as I do chocolate. Thankfully, I live in DC and can see many wonderful exhibits downtown. After my JD, I hope to get my Masters in Art History.
2. I hate Ketchup, which makes me feel very un-American. But I love peanut butter on hot dog buns, so that slightly redeems me.
3. I bite my nails. It is a horrible habit that is only stopped if I get regular manicures, which you know my wallet and time allow frequently. haha!
4. I am not very big into reality tv (although, I will watch it occasionally) but I will not miss Project Runway or Top Chef. They are both fabulous. I love the creativity and ideas to come out of them
5. I cartwheel and do handstands often! Cartwheels express my excitement and happiness, while handstands calm me.
6. I am desperately afraid of serving undercooked chicken and so I am very anal when cooking it. Regardless of the meat temperature, I must always slice it open to check it and cover the cut with lots of sauce.
7. I love making souffles, as in, it is quite the obsession. I prefer chocolate ones, which I eat with a glass of champagne…there is something about the bubbles of the champagne and the fluff of the souffle that I just love. (My roommate added this one when I was struggling to come up with more).

“7 Things” Meme How To:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at their Blogs
5. Have fun!

Laura of Lazy Susin
Kevin of Closet Cooking
Mandy of Fresh from the Oven
Ilva of Lucullian Delights
Deborah of Taste and Tell

And now for that good dinner and the other hot woman. Santa brought me Padma Lakshmi’s Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day. In honor of Top Chef starting next week, as she is the host of the show, I decided it was time to tackle a recipe from her. I tried Chicken A La Nueces De La India. It was delicious! I substituted peanuts for cashews and made it for two people. It only took about 45 minutes to make and served with rice and wilted spinach made an excellent meal. The cookbook is beautifully written, the recipes are easy to follow and her cooking philosophy is very similar to my own. She also gives tips, which are helpful (for example, see step 1). I cannot wait to try something else from her cookbook like, Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

Chicken A La Nueces De La India
(adapted from Padma Lakshmi’s Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet: A World of Recipe for Every Day)

5 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup flour for dusting on a dinner plate
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, pureed into powder
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme (I used dry not fresh)
1 cup chicken stock (we ran out and a chicken bouillon dissolved in water worked well)
1 1/2 tablespoon honey

1. Pound chicken breast flat and thin into cutlets, to about 1 inch thickness. Do this by using plastic wrap to cover the chicken and pound with a mallet or meat tenderizer, even the back of a heavy metal ladle or large serving spoon will work.
2. Lightly sprinkle each side of the cutlets with salt and pepper.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat in a skillet.
4. Lightly dredge each side of all chicken pieces in flour to coat with just a light dusting. Shake off any excess.
5. When oil is hot, sauté chicken single file, don’t crowd the pan until lightly browned on both sides and cook through. When chicken is done, transfer to a large platter, and keep warm and covered.
6. Puree peanuts in a blender or processor to form a powder and set aside.
7. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil on medium heat in another skillet. When oil is hot, sauté garlic and shallots for 2 minutes. Add crushed red pepper and thyme and cook for 1-2 more minutes, just until shallots are glassy.
8. Pour in chicken stock. Add honey and stir until this comes to a gentle bubbling boil.
9. Turn heat to a medium low and carefully stir in powdered peanuts, stirring vigorously so no clumps are formed. Now turn heat to low, and let the sauce become a gravy-like consistency. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper if needed. Keep the sauce warm on low heat, adding a bit more stock if needed so it doesn’t become too thick.

10. Return chicken to skillet on medium low just until meat is heated through. Now pour sauce over the chicken and serve hot. The chicken can also be plated and the sauce can be poured over that just before serving.

P.S. This is such a long post, I have nothing more to say. Enjoy!

Ginny makes…toast

February 6th, 2008

I have trouble with toast. Toast is very difficult. You have to watch it all the time or it burns up.

-Julia Child

When I was in kindergarten, after school one day, I really wanted toast. My mother, busy with my 3 year old sister and newborn brother, told me to put the bread in the toaster and push down the button. When it popped up, it would be ready. I listened to her instructions but when the bread came up it was not toasted enough for me (I like my bread toasted to the point of almost being burnt). I asked my mom about what to do and she said to change the dial to a higher setting. So I tried again. The next thing I knew, black smoke was billowing out of our house, our neighbor was running across the street wanting to know if he needed to call the fire department, and my poor toast had turned into ashes. I had committed one of my first culinary mistakes by toasting the same bread twice.

Although, I still like my bread toasted to the verge of burnt. I haven’t burnt bread quite that bad since. One of my favorite new sandwiches, Chicken-Thyme-Pear-Brie, I made up one day on a whim because I had some pears about to go bad and some chicken. My roommate keeps asking when I am going to make it again and when it will appear on the blog. So here we go… Although, to be truthful, this one is made with swiss because it is what I have at home. I like it with Brie more but Swiss is a decent substitute.

Chicken-Thyme-Pear-Brie Sandwich

Makes two sandwiches.

4 slices of bread
1 chicken breast
3 tablespoon white worcestershire sauce
1 pear
1 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoon butter
brie (or swiss), sliced

1. Marinate the chicken in the worcestershire sauce for a least 2 hours and up to a day beforehand.
2. Grill the chicken until cooked through.
3. Slice the pear into strips around the core.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan over medium heat until melted.
5. Cook the pear in the butter until softened and beginning to brown.
6. Sprinkle with thyme and mix to cover. Season with salt and pepper.

In a toaster oven:
7. Place the slices of bread in the toaster oven. Put slices of cheese on two of the slices of bread. Toast the bread to your desired toastedness and the cheese melts.

On the stove:
7. Heat the other tablespoon of butter in a frying pan and tilt the pan to move the butter over the frying pan. Place the bread on the frying pan. Put slices of cheese on two of the slices of bread. Toast the bread to your desired toastedness and the cheese melts.

8. Remove from the toaster oven/frying pan. Place slices of chicken on the bread with the cheese, top with the pears and then cover with the other piece of bread.
9. Slice and eat! yummy!

P.S. Don’t have/like Brie or Swiss? Add any cheese that you like or have around. Play with new combinations and see what you come up with