Monday, February 28, 2011

Creole mail boxes

Do you remember my posting about mail boxes from France (see it here)? Well, as it turns out New Orleans has some really interesting ones too! Check them out.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Menu for the week

Orecchiette with broccoli, spinach, asparragus and pancetta/salad
Red lentils soup/Roti
Pannini with roasted red pepper, basil pesto and brie/salad
Whole wheat pizza with spinach pesto, feta and caramelized onions

Aldi/Kroger $43
Costco $14
GW of Georgia $ 7

Plans for the weekend include going to our friend's house for some hot pot (I'm so looking forward to it!!) and hanging around the house getting our garden beds ready... The weather around these parts has been so nice! 

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Salted butter chocolate chip cookies

I decided to try a David Lebovitz' recipe for salted butter chocolate chips cookies because I have heard so much about it, I had to try it for myself. The ingredients include French salted butter, check. 70 % cacao chocolate, check. A cookie that combines both, check! These cookies will not disappoint... If you pull them out of the oven a minute or so before they are done, they will be so chewy... Just my kind of cookie.

Check David Lebovitz' blog for subtitutions and other tips...

4 ounces (115g) salted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed (110g) dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup (180g) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
1 1/3 cups (200g) coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 cup toasted nuts, coarsely chopped

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar just until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the beaten butter until combined, then mix in the chopped chocolate (including any chocolate dust) and the chopped nuts. Cover and chill the batter until firm. (It’s preferable to let it rest overnight.) To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Form the cookie dough into rounds about the size of a large unshelled walnut. Place the mounds evenly spaced apart on the baking sheets, and press down the tops to flatten them so they are no longer domed and the dough is even. Bake the cookies for ten minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies look about set, but are not browned. Remove from the oven and quickly tap the top of each with a spatula, then return to the oven for two to five more minutes, until the tops of the cookies are light golden brown.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oak trees

Did you know that while most termite species feed on dead wood, there are a few species that feed on live plants and trees? These termites weaken the limbs of the trees, which can cause heavy branches to break during storms. Eventually, the termite damage will be too extensive for the tree to survive.
Formosan termites are a particular threat to trees. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that more than 30 percent of New Orleans’ live oak trees are infested with Formosan termites. In 2000, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry began a program to treat publicly owned trees for termite infestation. This program saves the trees and helps decrease termite populations, which reduces the threat of termite infestations in nearby wood structures.

We learned this on our visit to the New Orleans' Insectarium. I am so glad that the goverment of the state of Louisiana is taking steps to help preserve these beautiful trees.

Aren't you glad to have learned this important piece of trivial information?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Parmesan crisps

Ok friends, hold on to your horses because what I have to show you is simply delicious. Parmesan crisps... Who knew?

1/2 cup grated Parmesan


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pour a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan onto a silicone lined baking sheet and lightly pat down (a silicone baking sheet is highly recommended). Repeat with the remaining cheese, spacing the spoonfuls about a 1/2 inch apart. Medallions should be about 3 inches in diameter. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool.

Eat them as a topping for a simple arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette...

Or as a topping for a creamy soup
You get the idea

Friday, February 18, 2011

Menu for the week

Meat Lasagna/Salad
Vegetable stir fry/rice
Minestrone alla Genovese/Salad
Hot dogs/Oven Fries

Aldi/Kroger $27
Costco $12
Super H $2

I am on my way to the North Georgia Mountains for my annual scrapbooking retreat. A whole weekend of scrapbooking, eating, and hanging out with friends. I know you are wishing you could do that too... Aren't you?

(Picture from last fall's retreat)

I will be bringing the desserts. I am making a linzer torte, brownies and a cake. I can't wait to try some of the delicious foods the other ladies will be making...

This weekend daddy is in charge. I am leaving the meat sauce prepared for the lasagna and as a treat they will be having hot dogs on another night...

See you back here on Monday very relaxed and with a lot of scrapbooking done.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shrimp stock

I made a very delicious shrimp stock and I wanted to share the recipe with all of you. As I told you before (see previous post here), I like to make my own stock for soups and such. It is so much better, and cheap... All you need are vegetable scraps... The result is so rich and delicious. I like to use shrimp stock for paella, fideua and other seafood recipes but ever since we got back from New Orleans I can't wait to use it on some gumbo or jambalaya.

The shells, tails and, if I have it, the heads of shrimp, approximately 2 pounds (I save mine in the freezer until I have a good amount)
1/2 of a onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrots
2 garlic gloves, smashed
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp. black peppercorns
A good sprinkle of sea salt

Optional: 1 lemon sliced

Add all ingredients to a moderate sized stock pot. Cover this with cold water. Bring almost to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Remember to give it a good squeeze to get all that good bit left.
Isn't the color of the stock fantastic?

Monday, February 14, 2011

I heart you!

Happy Valentine's day, friends... I leave you with some hearts... from me to you

Miss V has an uncanny ability to spot hearts. Here is a couple of them

Friday, February 11, 2011

Menu for the week

Spiced kibbe pita pockets with herb yogurt (repice from my new book Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen)
Potato and leek soup/Salad
Butternut squash risotto/Salad

Aldi/Kroger $29
Costco $17
Super H $11

The husband is taking the kiddos to Karate camp for the weekend. I have the house all to myself... What to do?

Sleep in
Hang out with my favorite girls
Get ready for next weekend scrapbooking retreat
Sleep in
Some sewing and crafting
A trip to Ikea
Sleep in

You get the idea...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The houses of New Orleans

Creole cottages and shotgun houses dominate the scene in many New Orleans neighborhoods. Both have a murky ancestry. The Creole cottage, two rooms wide and two or more rooms deep under a generous pitched roof with a front overhang or gallery, is thought to have evolved from various European and Caribbean forms. The shotgun house is one room wide and two, three or four rooms deep under a continuous gable roof. As legend has it, the name was suggested by the fact that because the rooms and doors line up, one can fire a shotgun through the house without hitting anything. Some scholars have suggested that shotguns evolved from ancient African "long-houses," built here by refugees from the Haitian Revolution, but no one really knows.

But really, the colors... Oh, the colors!!!