Saturday, August 11, 2007

Top Chef Recipe: 5


Welcome to week 5's Top Chef recipe edition! Thank you once again for voting this week-a total of 32 of you participated and I couldn't be more thrilled! Let me start out by saying that I have failed to incorporate one item in this week's recipe. I tried-I really did! But after 3 tries of my idea not working, I had to move on. The missing ingredient this week is: Squash.

As you can see below, I cooked off the spaghetti squash (a specific suggestion from Danielle) and placed it in a well greased ramekin. I then put it in a 400 degree oven to see if it would crisp up. It did not.
Next I thought about frying it to see if that would work. The first time I tried it, the squash looked as though it would crisp but quickly went from yellow to black. The second time I tried it did turn golden brown but when I tried to take it off of the mold I was using it instantly mooshed up into a spaghetti squash mess.

Because I only have one day to shop and experiment (because I work on Sundays) I decided to take one for the team and move on. I am sorry. My first idea was to make a crispy cup of squash to put the potatoes in-something different. After the did not work I thought I could make a small domed cage to place on top of the dish as garnish. That didn't work either, so instead, I simply ate the yummy goodness that it is all by itself, steamed and went on to other things...

This week's introduction to Wasabi gave me Asian Persuasion-and the fact that the Oranges won with the beef made it an obvious choice for me. I thought that the tomatoes and the squash would be a difficult addition, but was confident I could make something of it....another hiccup in my Asian Persuasion is that I thought I had Scallions here at home and did not buy them, therefore, my plates have no garnish. I promise to do better next week.


Fresh Tomatoes with Garlic, Mint & Chili Oil:



Orange & Garlic Beef Skewers over Wasabi Mashed Potatoes



Method:
For the Tomatoes:
2 Cloves of Garlic
3 Mint Leaves
2 T. Chili Oil
1 Fresh Tomato, Sliced
Salt
Scallions, to Garnish

1. Using a Chef's Knife or a Mortar & Pestle, smash garlic, salt and mint into a rough paste. Add the oil and let sit for a few minutes.


2. Thinly slice a tomato and place them on a clean plate. Drizzle chili oil over the tomatoes and garnish with fresh scallions and black pepper.


For the Orange & Garlic Beef Skewers & Wasabi Mashed Potatoes
3 oz Orange Juice
1/4 C. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 t. Honey
1 t. Red Pepper Flakes
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 C. Chicken or Beef Stock
Zest of 1/2 Orange
1 Scallion cut for garnish
1 Strip Steak
6-8 Wooden Skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

1. In a glass bowl combine all ingredients except for steak and zest.
2. Cut strip steak into 1/4 inch pieces and marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.
3. Thread skewers through beef and grill until done to your liking. Alternately, you can broil the skewers as well.
4. To make a sauce, reduce marinade and stock in a sauce pan to 3T. Drizzle over plated beef and garnish with zest and scallions.

For Wasabi Potatoes
1 Potato
1 T. Butter
1/2 t. Garlic Powder
1 1/2 t. Wasabi Powder
1 T. Heavy Cream
1/4 t. Salt

1. Boil potato until tender and drain. Mash or rice potato gently until no lumps remain. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Do not over mix.

Notes from the Chef:
I honestly did not know how to incorporate tomatoes into an Asian dish as I can't recall ever seeing them in this cuisine, even in school. I had to search on the Internet for some ideas, and found the recipe you see above. It called for me to crush the tomatoes as well though, and I thought that the slices would be a better overall presentation.

As far as the squash goes, I am disappointed it didn't work. I thought there was a chance it might, but obviously I was wrong. I have one more strip steak left over and I plan on making another dish with it and the squash later this week. I will post that recipe as well.

I enjoyed the steak marinade immensely. I think though that I would have liked it a little bit sweeter, and therefore, if you are like me, I would recommend maybe adding more honey, or perhaps some hoison sauce-2 T. or so...as far as the wasabi mashed potatoes go-they were pretty good. We make some at the club and I don't like theirs as much as mine-but if I had to choose, I would keep mashed potatoes simple (or a little fancy with truffle oil) and wasabi on my sushi...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Books!


Next week I am going to the beach for 4 or 5 days and I've just read my last un-read book! Help me! What books do you think I can not live without reading?

A few criteria:

1. I do not like horror/sci-fi type books or those like Stephen King
2. Nor am I keen on the girly romance type books
3. History? Only if it's social history-you know, how people lived, the clothes they wore, houses the lived in or dinner parties they threw. You get the point.

Now, I'm going to the bookstore tomorrow on my day off and would like some suggestions....I'm looking to get about 3 or 4 books. Please share...

And also, on a totally unrelated note, today I saw THE UGLIEST bald head EVER. And for those of you who do not know, I am irrationally afraid of bald men.

My Bologna Has A First Name

**Scroll down for this week's TOP CHEF results!**

Mr. Bond himself tagged me with a Meme (does it have a name?) and because I love him, and he hardly ever tags me, I shall comply. Also, the dear sweet Julie tagged me as well, so you know, I've got no excuse. ;)

Here are the rules:

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog post containing your own middle name game facts.
4. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog. (I will not be doing this-my middle name is too long...you'll see)

Ok, so here goes-first: No, my name is not Maggie Margaret. The Maggie (or Mags) comes from the Margaret. *Gasp*Horror*Shock*

Oh, stop it. Do you really think Bond's name is Bond? He is pretty cute, but c'mon!

M-aternal. Though I have no children I am very protective of the people I love and would do anything to make sure they were comfortable, happy, healthy, even if that means I am not. I have been known to even help the girl who my boyfriend cheated on me with because she was very sick.

A-pples. I love 'em, but I can no longer eat them raw for some reason. As an enthusiastic lover of the New England Autumn, this makes me very, very sad, as I love apple picking and eating them right off the tree. But, it gives me an excuse to make my ultra yummy apple pie.

R-esourceful. Sometimes I come up with ideas out of the blue that solve some really weird problems. I am creative and though sometimes I worry (not so much anymore now that I have my medicine!) too much overall, I think I do pretty well with things.

G-ood in bed (Hey, I've never had anyone complain, and they have all come back for more)

A-risk taker. I say what I feel in my heart too much when I should think about it more before vocalizing it. I also do things like go to culinary school at the age of 30 and have been known to flash a car full of boys after a day at the beach (when I was younger)

R-eal. Something people have always told me is that whether it is good or bad, they know exactly what I'm feeling or thinking. It has to do with the fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve and can't hide emotions well. Also, if someone asks my opinion, I will give them an honest answer.

E-ntertaining. In many ways. People laugh at me because I'm a dork (in a good way, I think) and because of me when I'm being funny. But also, I love to entertain people by cooking for them and throwing parties (though I rarely do). It makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy when people are eating and drinking and laughing.

T-all. I am almost 5'10 and for a woman, that's pretty tall.

Now, for the tagging. There is no way I am tagging 8 people. Also, LOTS of people have done this one. So, I will tag 1 person, who I know has not. Danielle, please consider yourself TAGGED!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Top Chef Results

Before I announce the winners, I would like to thank you ALL for voting this week-32 voters in all...my hope is that with your help, Top Chef will grow to at least 50 votes per week. That being said, I have one question:

WHO is it that votes for some things but not others? Each week I have one or two categories that are missing votes! I'm not gonna lie: It drives me nuts. ;) All the same, I thank you for voting.

Here are this week's winners:

Strip Steak

Oranges

Wasabi

Squash

Please stop by this weekend (probably Saturday night or Sunday) to see what I've come up with-and yes, I promise to measure this week!

Thoughtful Blogger

It amazes me that a little over 2 years ago I started this blog in secret. Someone I care about had a blog and talked about it all of the time and I was curious but embarrassed because I really did not even know what a blog was until I met him.

I've had my ups and downs, as has this blog, but recently I've met so many wonderful people and yes, even made dear friends. Sometimes people scoff when I say, "My friend Morgen said this" or "I wonder if Bee would like this cake" (Silly question, right?) because I have never met them in person.

It doesn't matter.

Technology has made it so that we can communicate with people all over the world. We share stories, ups and downs and lend support and advice when it is needed most. I know what most of their voices sound like, and I have had the pleasure of laughing along with them, just as I have with the friends I have here at home. It is a wonderful addition to my life, and for all of you, I am grateful and so very happy to have met you all.

So why am I being so mushy and sentimental? Because of all of the people that my friend Morgen knows, he chose me.
I now bestow the Thoughtful Blogger award upon my friend Mags from Ms Maggie Moo Talks 2 U.She's been a good friend and she always has other people's feelings in mind, even when it comes back to bite her. She's been very supportive of me, and very thoughtful. Plus, she's not afraid to call me an idiot when I'm being an idiot. I thank her for that, and because I'm thoughtful too (see above), it's made our friendship stronger!

Now, I've been awarded many blog awards in the recent past, and I adore them all, and am proud to have them on my sidebar-but they were for my blog, my writing. This award-this one is for me.

Thanks you Mo, for giving this to me, for your kind words, and yes, for being such a wonderfully supportive and fantastic friend.

Top Chef: Week 5

Here we are again, you crazy daizies! It's time to vote for this weeks TOP CHEF ingredients! Remember to send your friends this way so they can join in the fun too-voting ends Thursday at 11:59PM EST.












Don't forget to come back on Friday to see the results!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Desserts I Will Make

I've always wanted to approach the executive chef at the country club about the possibility of me making special desserts for them. Currently they only make one sub-par dessert from scratch and the rest is bought. I finally got the courage to do it tonight, and he was thrilled! Tomorrow I will begin by making desserts for a private party and every week I will be able to make whatever I want for the special!

Chef told me, "Whatever you need, just let me know. I can order you anything." Wow. If I continue this for the rest of the time I work there, I can put on my resume that I was the pastry chef for a well known country club in CT. That'll be wicked cool...I'm thrilled!!! And so...

Thirteen Desserts I'll Make as Pastry Chef


1. Lemon Meringue Tarts
2. Brownie Tarts with Creme Anglaise
3. Strawberry Tarts with a Chocolate Linings and Pastry Cream
4. Miniature Banana Crescent Pies Served with Chocolate Ice Cream
5. Maple Pecan Pies
6. Lime & Coconut Meringue Pies (It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere)
7. Poached Pears in Red Wine Sauce
8. Tiramisu in individual Espresso Mugs
9. Chocolate Cakes with Ginger Chocolate Mouse and Raspberries
10. Gingerbread Cakes with Fennel Blueberries and Chantilly Cream
11. Apple Cheesecakes with Spiced Creme Anglaise and Butterscotch Sauce
12. Grapefruit Cakes
13. White Chocolate Pate with Black Raspberry Sauce

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Randomivity

Have you ever noticed that the people on House Hunters never get turned down for the house the really want? I think it would make for more interesting television if they did. I'd like to see some tantrums and some wheelin' and dealin' going on. Wouldn't you?


Penicillin should never be taken on an empty stomach. And you should never eat olives to try to stop the inevitable. It just ends up blocking your sink.


Having a temperature in the summer really sucks. Even with ac, you just end up feeling like a limp cucumber on a dirty old salad.


It's possible that the fever damaged my brain, cause I'm not sure where I came up with that last one.


Showering after you've been really sick is possibly the most exhilarating experience.


Being on speaker phone is annoying enough, but when you are on speaker phone with your boss and co-workers when you have strep throat, it's even worse.


You know you've been sick for a few days when you get up and your back hurts from laying on the couch too much and also when you can't remember what day it is.


Sometimes you need a drastic change to help you with things you can't do yourself.


I already disliked them before, but having to watch Rachel Ray and Giada De Laurentis for a few days just makes me mad. Yeah, they're cute, but has anyone noticed how they over enunciate? Doesn't that annoy you? And hello-can you say "Bobble head"? Giada has this huge head and little body. I know I'm bigger than she is, but at least I'm proportioned well!

Wordless Wednesday

"That's elephants hugging" which naturally, made my day (that day)


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Yes, REAL Money



This is NOT a paid ad. This is me, telling you how easy it was for me to make money. As you can see from my sidebar, I'm over $300 in PPP ads now. Some of you have scoffed and asked, "Yeah, but how much have you actually been PAID?!" Well, as you can see, I have been paid $178.94 USD, real cash money that I can transfer into my bank account at any time.

Once you get the hang of it, PPP is really quite easy. It is based off of your page rank and your Alexa score however, and so the quantity and frequency of ads is determined by your rank. The better your scores, the more ads you have an opportunity to take.

Honestly, if you can get past the fact that you are "Selling out" your blog, it's not so bad. I personally find it challenging to write ads for people and companies while maintaining a "Maggie" feel, incorporating my stories when I can. I have to do this while still meeting their criteria, of course.

I know that some of you are still opposed to me monetizing my blog, but really, this money is going to come in handy. There are things that I have been unable to do in the past and now I have the means to take care of them. For that, I feel very lucky to have a good enough page rank and score to get decent ads as well as the ability to write.

If you have any questions about starting PPP on your blog, please feel free to email me. And also, if you are going to sign up, I ask that you do so by clicking the link on my sidebar for PPP-yes, I do get a referral reward, and I would be very grateful if you went through me.

There's no point to this really, but to say that I am enjoying making money this way, and yes, it IS real money!

The Mo Show: Now on Wednesday's!

Graphic by Janna
Listen live tomorrow night by clicking here or listen anytime to the archives!

Halloween the Movie

In the sixth grade I was trying to edge my way into the bff spot of the most popular girl in our little school. I was already part of her click, but not quite to that point where we could share our most intimate sixth grade secrets with each other. In order to prove myself worthy, I, despite my fear of well, fear, sat through Nightmare on Elm Street.

It was terrifying. To this day I sometimes think about it-especially when I am in a bathtub and I hear what sounds like Freddy's fingers scraping against the pipes below.

I never made it to the bff spot, but I did manage to scare myself so much that even in my 30's I still remember that classic movie.

Another classic horror film is Halloween. Originating in 1978, it became the highest ranking independent film of its time. Like Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween's ability to get under the viewers skin proved to be its secret to success.

On August 31 Halloween the movie opens in theaters everywhere. The twist? It is written and directed by none other than Rob Zombie.



It is said that having Rob Zombie write and direct this film will make it wildly new and exciting. His "throw-back style" and attention to detail will easily make this the most horrifying Halloween yet. Personally, I think that being so fresh out of the "amateur filmmaker" status means that his newer, fresher perspective and willingness to push the limits will certainly bring more to this film than you can imagine.

Toosdae ?'s

Hi everyone-I'm still feeling very under the weather, but quite frankly, I couldn't stand laying on the sofa any longer! Please take a minute to answer this week's Toosdae ?'s.


1. What is the most sick you have ever been and how long ago was it?


2. Do you like to be babied when you are sick or left alone?


3. What is your favorite "Make me feel better" food?


1. Though my temperature got to 101.1 yesterday and I had an allergic reaction to my medicine (read: barfola) I think the sickest I have ever been was 3 years ago during the Christmas season. I caught one heck of a stomach bug and was out of commission for over a week. I was so sick that I did not even eat on Christmas Eve, which is the best day of the year to eat in my family.


2. Though it's been a VERY, VERY long time since I've been babied when I was sick (think college and Seany Mike) I do like to be babied. I'm not talking up your butt baby me, but more like asking if I need anything, rubbing my head when I have a fever and bringing me cold drinks and medicine.


3. Honestly, as a hater of chicken noodle soup, mine is white bread toast and butter with a whole bottle of iced cold gingerale. I love those two things anyway, but when I am not feeling well-no matter what the illness is, I somehow feel like I'm on my way to getting better after I have those things.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Ouch

I have strep throat. It hurts.

I might be out of commission for a couple of days until the meds start aggressively fighting the ickiness that has become my throat.

Later....

Manic Monday: Lie

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Mondays are MoMoLicious


It was nights like these that made her miss him more than ever. When the summer breeze gave way to its first hint of fall, gently swooshing the leaves around her-when the mosquito's were not biting and the fireflies were performing their spectacular light show right in her very back yard. Yes, she was lying to herself if she thought for one minute that she was over him.
a
She remembered back to their lazy days of sleeping in, nestled up against each other as if they never wanted to part. God, she loved the way he smelled in the morning-sleepy and warm, that smell had a way of wrapping its arms around her and making her feel like nothing could ever hurt her. They'd lay there for what seemed like hours, laughing and kissing and when they knew it was time to get up they'd move to the couch, entwining themselves in a way that only the two of them would fit.
a
They'd read and nap for the rest of the day, each traveling to their own secret world yet never once breaking free of their bond.
But there was no use for remembering. Remembering only brought her to the realization that they would no longer share those moments. He was long gone now, and nothing but the smell of his skin on her pillow remained.
a
What is it about these summer nights that always bring back the remembering?
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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Top Chef Recipe: Week 4

Ok....so this week there are no pictures because I can not get them to download from my camera. 8(

If you remember correctly, this week's winners were: Pork Loin, Artichokes, Sherry and Risotto. Confession #1-I am on the Atkins Diet. Confession #2-I did not eat the Risotto...I did taste it for seasoning, but that was all. ;)

Stuffed Pork with Sherry Cream Sauce & Mushroom Risotto


1 Pork Loin
1 Jar of Artichoke Hearts
5 Cloves Garlic
4 Pieces of Bacon
1 Shallot
Salt TT
Pepper TT

Fillet the pork loin to open it up-try to start your first cut low so you can make a 2nd cut once it is open. (This would be so much easier with the picture!) You are trying to open up the loin so that you can spread the filling.

In a food processor, pulse the Artichoke Hearts and garlic cloves until they form a lumpy paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you would like, you can also add the bacon bits that you will render in a pan in the next step as well. (I did and it was GOOD)

In a medium sized saute pan, render the bacon. (This means cook it until it's crispy so the fat comes out of it into the pan) If you'd like, reserve the bacon as stated above. Set pan aside.

Season the pork inside and out with salt and pepper. Spread the artichoke filling inside and roll it up jellyroll style. Secure with twine or toothpicks. Heat the pan you rendered the bacon in to medium high.

Sear the outside of the pork until golden brown. This will lock in the juices and preserve flavor. Transfer pork into a baking dish and finish in a 350 Degree oven for 10-30 minutes, depending on how big your loin is! (Desired cooking temp is 140)

Meanwhile, in the same pan saute off minced shallots. Deglaze the pan with sherry, making sure you take the pan off of the heat before pouring it in. Scrap all of the good brown bits off of the pan. Reduce to half.

Check your pork. If it is ready, take it out and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Finish the sauce by adding cream, salt and pepper. Reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.

To serve, place Risotto on a plate and cut 3 thin rounds off of your pork. Arrange them so they are leaning against the risotto. Drizzle sauce over each piece of pork.

*I realize I did not give you specifics on the Sherry and Cream. That is because I'm a dope and don't measure! I always forget that when I do this, I have to remember to measure for you...I can tell you that the sherry is a little more than covering the bottom of the pan so it effectively deglazes the pan and has room to reduce. As far as the cream, I would say about 1/2 C. would do. Start with less and add more if needed. The sauce should be a creamy brownish pink color.

Next week, I promise to measure!

If you would like a recipe for Risotto, please email me. Risotto is an actual method of cooking rice and most are done the exact same way with different ingredients. I would be happy to help you if you would like!

The Vegas Visitor

I have only been to Vegas once-twice if you count the time during the same trip we drove back from California just to eat at a Brazilian restaurant again. Though my stay was short (one day) I quickly realized how fascinating and addicting it could be. I also realized that if I were to go back again, I would need some help with inside tips.

The Vegas Visitor is a cool new website that posts tidbits and inside stories in short a short, blog-like way. I personally love that I did not have to read a six page article to find out that the Luxor is dumping its Egyptian theme. This site also has the low down on Food and Drink, Casinos and Casino News.

I happen to know at least one of my readers is going to Vegas shortly and lots of others are planning a trip soon. So take a few minutes too browse through their tags and learn tons of things you never knew about Vegas!

Top Chef: Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for this week's Top Chef recipe...
tomorrow night!