Category Archives: Nom Nom

¡Feliz Cumpleanos, Julia!

I am happy, happy, HAPPY to report that Julia Child has come back into the cooking repertoire! And what perfect timing with it being her birthday!!

 

Classic Julia

 
Wednesday night’s (because what better day to cook a Julia recipe than hump day, right?) Julia recipe was Fricassee de Poulet A L’ancienne (Old-fashioned chicken fricassee with wine-flavored cream sauce, onions, and mushrooms). Yep, a mouthful and man– was it a DELICIOUS mouthful!

**Disclaimer–I hope you don’t mind, but I’m not really good at taking pics WHILE I’m making my dishes. I’m pretty good at maybe doing a “right before it goes into the oven” shot but I just really don’t think I can take photos of the “in-progress” moments and actually make them look appetizing. If you’d like play-by-play pics let me know and I will work on my photography skills. Hmmmmm…that may finally give me incentive to do those online classes I purchased last year!!

So back to Julia. This is just my 4th entree that I have been tracking since maybe moving to Puerto Rico. I know, so not a good track record. This is what I have done so far, and I will be (trying) to find the recipes online to post in another tab in case you get the urge to try out some butter. And cream. Oh, and good chicken.

* Poulet Poele A L’Estragon (Casserole-roasted chicken with tarragon)
* Poulet au Porto (Roast chicken steeped in port wine, cream, and mushrooms)
* Poulet Saute aux Herbes de Provence (Chicken sautéed with herbs and garlic, egg yolk, and butter sauce)

See what I mean about butter. And cream? And more butter!!

This has to be one of my absolute favorites. Just so you know, I have cooked through about 15 or so recipes already while we were living in the upper 50’s, I just never wrote about them other than posting a pic on Facebook. And let me tell you: going back and re-doing some of these is going to make this chica (and my husband, father, and baby girl) a very happy person!

 

I have a thing for flagging cooked recipes So many recipes!

 
So this is the thing about Julia that may scare off people if you happen to thumb through her 650+ page cookbook: she’s wordy! One recipe can be upwards of about 4-5 pages. And then she also includes variations to main recipes. AND THEN she’ll also throw in some sides that will go well with the dish and that can be at least a page long. I found this blog post that pretty much sums up what I’m talking about. The line that really drives Julia home is, “…Julia’s recipes were written for a rigorous cook with endless patience for serious detail.” Yet, I LOVE it! It’s sort of like she’s talking you through the recipes, step-by-step, as if she’s in the kitchen with you. There’s no guesswork or holes; what she says (or rather writes) is literally what you do. Her use of language and words to describe food makes me smile. Yep, I’m a dork.

After about 3 hrs (on and off – Gabriela was not in the mood to fully cooperate) of slowly braising the chicken, steeping mushrooms, and straining all the yummy bits, we were left with the must luscious and velvety wine-cream sauce that was just rich enough to make you want to keep sopping it up with the pasta and chicken but not too rich to make it feel heavy. There was a perfect balance. This is the genius of Madame Child.

 

Yep. YUM!

 
I am really, really hoping that this will indeed kick-start my love affair of all things French (food, at least) that I will be dedicating one day a week to Mastering the Art of French Cooking!

Bon appetit!

 

Passed the Gabriela tatste test!

 
 

 

Thursday Beach Series

i just realized that I never posted last week’s beach Thursday. I can totally blame that on mom brain, right?

So let me digress a bit: last week we tried out pork pinchos (kebobs) using this Asian style marinade. I was worried after making the marinade because I’m really not a measure-er (is that a word?) and I thought maybe it would be too salty or too sweet. I normally tend to worry about under/over seasoning. 

Turns out I worried for nothing. They ROCKED! We gobbled them up so fast that I didn’t even take a pic of them! Total fail. I was able to catch this little one snoozing away while We enjoyed an aguacate that our vicino (neighbor) brought over for us. Can anything beat a just picked avocado!!??

  
Alrighty, now we’re up to date! Today the beach is quiet (school started — YES) so I think the beaches will be quiet again during the week. And it’s the most beautiful blend of blue, turquoise, and green hues I’ve seen in awhile. Here’s a pic but it really doesn’t do it any justice. 

  
We have also added to our list of gear as well. Like we really need more, right? I was commenting to my father the other week that it would be helpful to have another table to put the cooking essentials on, rather than just have them haphazard  on a beach chair. We have a Table in a bag, kind of like this (but I don’t think we paid this much for it) that has worked out great. But the grill takes up most of the space and left us with our plates on our laps. Not very convenient. 

And then we came across this little gem, which seems perfect (pic below). So we’re trying it out today, along with a variation/combination  of a few recipes I found online that basically consists of about 3tbs soy sauce, 2tbs brown sugar, 1tbs lime juice, pinch of red pepper flake, and a glub of olive oil. Marinate overnight, then skewer in the morning and cook till cooked through. They were so moist that it was even overlooked I forgot to do a dipping sauce. 

La nena is knocked out asleep right now after her bath and a quick feeding. The new contraption worked out great. Us adults are partaking of a cocktail and I think the husband is bringing dinner home. Score! There may even be a rain shower off in the horizon. I’d say it was a pretty damn good day! 

Now prepare for a photo blast. Sorry!

 

my little chiquita and me. it was a good day!

  

my favorite things.

  

our spot!

  

our new addition. still figuring out where to put things.

 

I Wonder Wednesday!

I have been very lucky in my life to have lived in different places that offered different types of food, fruits, and veggies. I especially have my parents to thank for introducing me to a lot of different tastes at an early age (crab legs before the age of 5? Yes please!)

So I really do think that helped shape my desire to be a foodie and try out different things and recipes, which I hope to pass on to Gabriela. 

 

scrambled eggs with fresh dill from our garden


And in moving to Puerto Rico our arsenal of fruits and veggies available to us (via little small side of the street vendors) is pretty awesome! 

Case in point: La quenepa.  We had this when we just moved here (almost a year ago! WOW!) But we hadn’t had it since. Right now is the peak time for these little guys so there’s someone selling them everywhere. We picked up this bunch for $2! We also got some free advice from the seller that you can use these to make infused rum. I’m totally into this and apparently is a specialty over in Vieques called Bilí. 
It’s some work to get the minute fruit that’s in each pod but it’s still oh so good. 

 

bunch of fresh quenepas!


So I wonder…how do these fruits get discovered? In fact, how did any of our fruits, veggies, beef, pork, chicken, seafood…what-have-you, get introduced to society? Who was that person who looked at these pods and said, ‘yea, I think we can eat these!’? And even makes me wonder MORE  are those foods that have to be cooked to certain temperatures in order for them to be no longer fatal. How did that all work? Who would volunteer for THAT job?! 
Food is wonderful and amazing and should be sought after for its unique and differing tastes and textures. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in many places that helped expand and shape my palate that I just crave good, quality food. I try to pass this on to my family by cooking at home daily and also exploring new and innovative restaurants/shops that also take pride in their product. While I live with two ‘meat and potato’ kinda guys, ever so often a little foodie comes out in them. And I’m hoping the same will be true with Gabriela. 

So, as Andrew Zimmern says, ‘if it looks good…EAT IT!’

 

cheese plate from Lenel’s in Arecibo; from the weekend

 
 

sorry…couldn’t help but include a little pool action

 

I Wonder Wednesday…

I love food. Like, really, really love food. Give me shrimp, crab legs, yummy spicy chicken wings or a big fat rare steak and I will gladly take my time devouring and delighting in ever single bite. 

And I feel the same way when I’m craving a burger. And this rarely happens often and I also don’t do burgers in the house. It just seems like a lot of work (like making tacos). So when I want a burger, I. Want. A. BURGER!

There’s a yummy place we’ve found called Ola Lola’s with a fun lil atmosphere. Their burgers are a great size and very very flavorful. It’s a nice way to spend an early evening. 

Which brings me to the ‘great size’ bit…I wonder when a HUGE burger became the norm or even something sought after. I wonder when having to cut the burger with a fork and knife became something to shoot for. I mean, to each their own but that doesn’t  denote a superb burger to me. It’s just show. 

Grant it we did have a fabulous burger at Blue Fin a few months back but it seems as if their burgers have gotten bigger. Much. Much bigger. And $$. 

So I wonder what you think: an appropriate sized, fully flavored, perfectly cooked  burger or a beast of beef? Here are a few I came across the other day. Bon appetit!

   
 

Baby bites and a road to Tuscany

hello. My name is Jennefer and I’m addicted to the food network. And the cooking channel. And cookbooks. Lots of cookbooks. And really big, complicated, intricate, long cooking meals (hello, Julia Child). While this addiction results in some really, REALLY good food, I do get overwhelmed with ‘what’s for dinner?’  

In an attempt to organize and declutter my kitchen world, I’ve gone back to meal planning and the weekends are normally when I try to get lots of cooking done and my week in line (this is also when I do bulk batches of things like the husbands burritos that I freeze). My wonderful husband takes on baby Gabi (wait- can I still call her ‘baby’ now that she’s a year old??) so I have hours of cooking time. Yes, I get excited! I also get a chance to strap on my rain boots and work on the garden as well. Thank you husband!

 

how i roll. yep. no shame. 😉

 
So this past weekend I went to town. We had Gabi’s one year appt and she’s a little under weight so I’ve been looking into recipes to help bulk her up. I whipped up these  Tuna and sweet potato bites, which Gabi loved loved loved. Score! And to help give her more veggies, and use up the leftover sweet potato, I made these Zucchini bites. I didn’t add the onion, though, and I added some fresh thyme to this and thyme and dill to the tuna bites. Yum-o! Sorry- no pics. 😦

But the piece de résistance of the weekend had to be the porchetta I roasted on Sunday. As the opening of this post states, I love cooking shows and I recently have become obsessed with a fan of the show _Extra Virgin_ on the cooking channel. Their food always looks amazing and everything is so fresh and local. Check it out! It follows the couple from their homes in Brooklyn, LA, and beautiful Tuscany. I think I just live vicariously through them! 

The other day Gabriele made this Porchetta Sandwich and I knew I had to try it. I used an 8 pound picnic roast that is used for a classic pernil dish so I actually had to cut the bone out. This was a first and I think I did a pretty good at not mangling the meat too much! Although rolling it back up took a little creativity on how I tied it.  

mmmmm pork!


The house smelled AMAZING for the 5 hours that it roasted, low and slow. I also detached the thick fat cap, roasted it separately, and made a little chicharrón for my dad. He was in heaven. 

 

crispy chicharrón

 
The sandwiches turned out great and it was a perfect dinner to end the weekend (with lots of leftovers for carnitas, burritos, and perhaps some posole??). Total win!

 

the finished beauty

  

puerto rican bread, porchetta, cheese, with carmelized onions and green peppers

  

PS- did I mention that I just HAD to buy their cookbook?? Sssshhhh…don’t tell the husband. But I bought it for my Kindle, which he’s been bugging me to start using, so that’s perfectly acceptable, right? At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 😉

PSS- you can now follow me on Facebook! Click the link on the right to like My Kitchen Musings! Bon appetit ! 

Smorgasbord smashup…

And it’s not just about food!

I’ve noticed that I’ve been terribly absentminded these last few weeks and I have been neglecting my blog. My apologies to my followers. To say I’ve been crazy busy would be a fib; I’ve just been neglectful.

So here’s a smorgasbord (isn’t that such a great word??) smashup of the relevant high points of the last few weeks:

– baby Gabriela is 4 months old now! Well she was anyway on the 10th. She is a whopping 13lbs2oz, 24 inches long, and just perfect! She had her vaccinations as well and she was a rockstar. I can’t believe how big she’s getting.

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IMG_4436.jpg Such personality!

– speaking of getting big…she’s also getting her first tooth! Yikes!! She’s been a little more fussy the last few days and insists wants to be held as much as possible. Other than that she’s been pretty good. Thinking the tooth will pop through any day. She’s going to be too cute with a tooth!

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– cooking you ask? This week has been a bust and I sadly admit we’ve gotten takeout 2 times already. I’ve definitely lost my mojo this week. It doesn’t help that we spent 4.5 hrs at the doctor on Monday, I haven’t been to the grocery store in almost two weeks, or that Gabi is needing constant attention. I know, excuses excuses. Cooking will be had, damnit!

– when I was cooking the other week, it was pretty darn good! The standout has to be the 50 Shades of Chicken whole roasted chicken covered in bacon. The story for it is hilarious! Check out this excerpt:

“Chicken with a lardon.” [Seriously] “…He carries me in his arms to the sink. ‘I want to rinse you’, he mutters. “Now.” A strong, graceful hand cradles me under the cascading tap water while the other caresses me smoothly over the sink. His manicured fingers move in agonizingly slow arcs across my breast and the crease of my thigh. Holy cow. What is he doing to me? There’s a burning smell, and in my delirium I wonder if I’m already cooked.”

Even if you don’t ever make a recipe from here, you do just have to buy it for the novelty of the whole thing. Or at least that’s my story.

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– I also did a modified version of Giada de Laurentiis’ stuffed shells. Can anything be better than ooey gooey cheesy stuffed shells? Yum!

– we’ve squeezed in some beach time. Gabi is really starting to get used to the heat and we’ve been taking her slowly into the waters edge to get her feet wet. She seems to like it. I can’t wait till she’s a little bigger to really start enjoying it all! And that’ll mean more beach trips! 😉

– next week is Thanksgiving and also my favorite holiday because of all the food! My MIL Vicki will be in town so that’ll just make things extra fun. We’re getting ready for her visit by painting the living room and finally getting around to hanging up the final pictures. I also got a huge rug for the living room and it feels so much more cozy.

So check back over the weekend as I finalize our Thanksgiving feast and FINALLY make it to the market! Can’t wait to share all the yummy goodies I’ll be whipping up!

What will you be serving??

Bon Appetit!

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Food truck Fridays!

It’s amazing the amount of food trucks, wagons, carts, and guaguitas there are in our fine town. It seems like everywhere look there’s a little food stand with 5-10 cars precariously parked on the side of the road with cars going 50+ mph or maneuvering a blind turn.
Some are a little suspect.
But from the wise words of travel food guru ( aka crazy fat man who will eat anything) Andrew Zimmern, ‘if there’s a long line then that’s where you want to eat.’ So we began searching out the places with long lines cars parked by them.
The first was Bluefin.

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This is a little covered wagon of a place that churns out half pound burgers cooked to order, taco Tuesdays of beef, chicken, and fish, and an exceptional tuna steak burger. All from a little shed-like kitchen. Amazingly! It took us a while to actually find the place (although if you ask my husband he’ll tell you he knew exactly where it was at). It’s no bigger than a booth at a carnival but the food they put out is exceptional.
It was a bit in the expensive side – almost $10 per item- but it really, really was worth it!

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This past Friday brought us to a Venezuelan ‘shack’ that offered arepas, which is a corn type of pancake that is used as a bun and the filling can be chicken, pork, seafood, etc.

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We decided to check it out because my father had fond memories if Venezuelan fare.

So ours was their best seller: a yummy concoction of chicken with avocado, mayo, and a special sauce. The corn cake was a little different from what I am used to but it really worked well – as in not too flavorful- to really let the chicken and the fresh avocado come through.

We were afraid it wasn’t going to be filling enough so we stopped at this little place that is precariously perched at a corner on the beach road to pick up a few empanadillas.

Well, the arepas were definitely enough but the empanadillas were just as yummy!

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It’s amazing what you can find when you just slow down, look around, and take in the world around you.

Looking forward to our next food truck Friday!

Transitions

It’s amazing what your expectations may be of something and then when you actual experience it, it’s completely different. But that can be a good thing too: it’s nice to have expectations but I’m finding it more beneficial (and saner) to go into things with a more open mind.

Life on the island is interesting, to say the least. Things just move differently here, and I’m just not talking about the weather. For example, we inherited the previous owners ‘stray’ dog. There’s not a real ‘pound’ here so rather than adding to the stray dog problem we called city hall to have the dog removed. For $40. That we had to pay. This was over 3 weeks. The dog is still here. We’ve called multiple times and this dog guy has got to have the best job in the world because he checks in at 8 and no one knows where he is until 4 that day. One week he was sick. And the last two weeks his van has been in the shop. 2 weeks.

Internet. Don’t even get me started. I’m writing this on my iphone because we’ve lost our wifi. Again. Internet will be back soon. Albeit at on 2MB’s because of our remote location. Nice.

But we knew there would be challenges. And thankfully the great things of PR have definitely outweighed the bad.

Which brings me back to cooking. Isn’t that interesting that everything leads back to food? Or maybe that’s just me.

So food. I had these expectations of fresh fruit, produce, lovely meats, and an abundance of fresh herbs because c’mon! I live on an island where the weather is super duper ideal for growing things! Yea- I was wrong. But that’s ok– keeping an open mind and fishing out different grocery stores I’ve been able to find some really great deals and better looking produce. Plus- I’ve got my guy in the way to James’ work who still has the best looking tomatoes on the island.

So last week I was able to churn out Ellie Krieger’s stuffed peppers . Yum. And of course, it’s loaded with cheese. Being lactose intolerant whenever I do anything with cheese I go all out. If I gotta take pills I gotta make it worth it.

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We also received a huge avocado from our fabulous neighbor, Don Carlos. These things are bigger than my head and they taste so much different than the ones on the mainland. It still amazes me how fresh and amazing something tastes when it’s just picked from a tree, vine, or plant.

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This is definitely making me miss my garden I had in Dothan.

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Rounding out the weekend I made Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Ribs. These never disappoint.

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So even though things may not go as we had planned or our expectations fall short, in the brand scheme of things (like my sister Natalie said to me the other day) it’s probably not that big if deal. And in the end, there’s always a meal that can bring you comfort.

Hump Day, Shades Day

“I melt with a mixture of relief to have escaped the clutches of that blackmailing coyote and anticipation of that long baguette. Maybe food porn isn’t such a bad thing after all.”

Do I have your attention now?

It’s Hump day/Food Porn50 Shades of Chicken” day. Tonight I am making the “Chicken Sub”. Seems innocuos enough, right? Well it is actually pretty straight forward: marinate chicken cutlets (I’m using butterflied chicken thighs), then make a modified caprese salad on a fabulous baguette (or pan de agua in our Puerto Rican case). But to read the description in not only the intro but also in the actual directions, you may in fact blush. For example: : When the chicken can no longer stand the antici[ation, heat the remaining 3 tbls. …” or “…marinate at room temperature…or even better, overnight until it begs of you.”. Yea– this is a cookbook.

And if you really think about – or at least this is how I think- cooking should be fun, adventurous, gasp- even arousing! Or at least that’s what I think about cooking. Ok– maybe not the arousing part but some Julia dishes were oh so good. I don’t know– it always baffled me hearing how people would say that cooking is “hard”, or “complicated” or that everything they tried tasted “awful”. I didn’t grow up with a savvy chef of a mom: eggs mixed with canned tuna fish was absolutely yummy when I was young (and even now) and Hamburger helper was a staple in our cupboard. But over the course of my formative years, I was lucky enough to work at the Ritz-Carlton and Old Warson Country Club, which exemplified top-notch cooking; and I got spoiled.

So I made food a priority. I Enjoy food. I RELISH food. I sometimes can’t wait to try out that new dish or head to a new restaurant to try out FOOD. For me, it’s relaxing. The repetitive cutting and chopping was comforting to me. I looked forward to dinner time so I could, without question, spend hours in the kitchen. To get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday? No. I just fell in love with cooking.

So trying to pick that back up here in Puerto Rico has been quite trying.Reading a recipe, making a list, and expecting to find said ingredients at the store is a given; stateside. Here on the island– you’re lucky to find half of your ingredients. I’m not complaining. I’m just not used to this shortcoming. But this is giving me all sorts of challenges to overcome. This is when cooking gets fun!

So tonight was a chicken sandwich. Yum. Tomorrow it’s a Giada pasta dish with some special puerto rican sausage. It’s all about adapting, right? UPDATE: will be doing Ellie Krieger’s…with a little modification.

Nothing will ever go as it is planned. I learned that the day we decided to move to PR; the day we took our lil 5 week old baby Gabriela on a 10 hour travel plan and moving into a new house. You gotta go with the flow. And in cooking and in life, I think things will turn out pretty good!

Here’s to a happy HUMP day!

back in the saddle, er, KITCHEN, again!

so it’s been a long, long while since i’ve been cooking again. It’s quite different really finding ingredients here in Puerto Rico so I’ve been having a hard time trying to figure out what to make. Needless to say i’ve been leaning towards the old standby of chicken. And chicken. I’m hoping to ask around and see if there is a place to procure some yummy beef and pork. Hopefully. Soon.

So, I’m heading to my old standby favorites this week for our dinners. Tonight I am making some good ole spaghetti and meatballs. Yum comfort food. Tomorrow I’ll be hitting up my 50 Shades of Chicken cookbook and then finishing the week of with Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Feeding Men and Boys. Classics.

So being that I am getting back into the swing of things, I’m stealing an idea from this month’s _Food Network Magazine_. They have started a new column highlighting a celebrity chef’s cook book library. The first “chef” is non other than my girl Ina Garten. Her library is amazing. She built a whole room just for her books. And cake stands. I love Ina. So in the spirit of getting back in the saddle, celebrating the new Food Network piece, I thought I’d share my (little) cookbook library. Please bear in mind that we have just moved so my collection has downsized. Dramatically. But I think it was a good thing because these just represent my all-time favorite books. So I hope you enjoy these next few months as I dive back into my cooking and maybe one of these will grace your bookshelves.

Have a favorite cookbook? Send it my way! Be sure to check me out on Facebook

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