Monday, 21 December 2015

Cocktail Party Time!

Well, we’ve made it through another year. Gone are the endless summer days, lazy afternoons on the beach, and barbecuing your breakfast. Get ready for dark. So, so much dark. And cold! All the cold.

I’m going to hibernate this winter in the kitchen. I’ve been cooking up a storm lately, because I’ve decided homemade gifts are so much more thoughtful. And fun. And Instagrammable, because you can be all like, “#DIY #SundayFunday #Homemade #WifeyMaterial,” and such when you are crafting up a storm. People will be jealous of your artsy nature, they will compare themselves to you and feel inadequate, and really, that’s the spirit of the season, oui?

Anyway. You know what’s more fun that making people jealous? The spirits of the season! See what I did there? We’re talking booze now, folks. The other things that is fun is being alone and having everybody leave you be, which hardly ever happens in this season of giving. But you can host a 5 à 7, (Cinq à Sept-French because we’re fancy here) and then you can enjoy cocktails with a few people, for only two hours, and then everyone leaves and you can drink red wine with your sister and watch E.R. on the couch for the rest of the night. And really, THAT’S the spirit of the season.

If you are hosting one of these delightfully time sensitive events, you will need to feed people. But again, only snacks! Because then they’ll go home and eat their own food and you don’t have to spend the entire day in the kitchen slinging fowl from fridge to oven to dinner table.  It’s a win-win, and if I have to hear you tell your saccharine engagement story (“And I was totally not expecting it, it was just this small box under the tree, but he told me it was a guitar pick, and I totally believed him!”) one more effing time, I’m going to do it while guzzling lavender-rosewater syrup cocktails and stuffing my face with homemade pâté.

A cheese plate is essential. You’ve got to show your individuality through a cheese plate. Are you an Edam host? Perhaps you’re more of a Cambozola-type. Is a Baked Brie too #basic now? Can a burrata elevate you to the next level? (Just for the record, absolutely). Join Kelly and I below as we discuss in our very first #GRWM video! Kelly covers the basics of drinks pairing, and I mostly chat about plates.


Whatever your plans are this holiday season, best wishes from the LadyGirls!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

 
How many blogs have I started with the sentence, “So it’s fall…”? Probably like 100. I feel like I say it all the time. Or spring. But of course that’s because I’m Canadian, and that means our lives revolve around the changing of the weather.

That being said, fall is probably my favourite season for cooking. It means that you can turn on your oven without your house feeling like the Seventh Circle of Hades, you actually feel like eating instead of just wanting 5 cold showers a day, and you can finally justify stuffing your face with delicious pasta, because that bikini can fuck off for eight months now. It’s the perfect season, really.


Being an ambitious young adult, I once tried to make gnocchi from scratch in my University Apartment, for my University Boyfriend, with my University Budget and Attention Span (sadly the attention span issue persists today). It was awful. I attempted such a thing because I knew that University Boyfriend’s favourite pasta was gnocchi, and I thought to myself, “What better way to charm a man than to make his favourite pasta from scratch?” I was given added confidence by watching Giada Di Laurentiis do it on her cooking show, which made making gnocchi look as easy as making Kraft Dinner. “Just scoop out the potatoes,” she said, with all her teeth and baby pink nail polish convincing me that I could just as easily scoop out a roasted potato or two and whip it into perfectly fluffy balls of pasta, given added charisma by being rolled on the back of a fork for a truly professional look. It was seductive, and I imagine University Boyfriend’s impressed and touched face as he popped my perfectly crafted gnocchi in his mouth.


What actually happened was that I began this project at 5:00 for a 6:00 dinner. Frantic, at 5:30, when my potatoes may as well be stones of granite, they were still so hard, I decided that mashing them at their current texture would be just fine. It was not fine. The dough was decidedly lumpy, I was covered in flour and still in pyjamas for dinner, I had potato bits in my hair for days, and I learned a very valuable lesson about why Italian men treasure their Nonnas so much.  To give credit where credit is due, University Boyfriend did his absolute best impression of himself being touched and impressed, and ate the pasta sauce like a soup.

 
Today, as I reflected on that memory, I decided to redeem myself. A fresh, fall day, I was ready for some flavours that reflected the season. I’m also somewhat precariously employed at the moment, so I have quite a lot of time on my hands. It felt like a day for self-improvement, and where better to start than one’s gnocchi-making skills? These are the skills of domestic goddesses and master chefs alike. These are the skills that build one’s character. These are the skills that, while unlikely to get you a job anywhere but the restaurant industry, require credit given on a résumé. Why? Because the creation of these perfect little potato balls requires diligence, attention to detail, and ambition. It is the activity of one succeeding in all aspects of life. To make one’s own gnocchi is to prove to the world that you are an adult and you can Make Anything Happen.  


Also, it’s way better than those weird rubber balls you buy in the grocery store. If for no other reason, this is worth it because I promise this is going to taste better. Let’s get started.

 
In “Bailey Makes Gnocchi: Volume 1”, my main mistake was not cooking the potatoes long enough. This is crucial. Give your potatoes a full hour in the oven at 425°. You also will ideally own a potato ricer, and if not (like me), you at least own a fine strainer that you can push the hot potato flesh through. (Use a spoon to do this, unless you have asbestos-hands.)

 
Start with two yellow potatoes and a sweet potato. Bake them on a rack for an hour at least, depending on how large they are. Once your potatoes are cooked, let them cool just enough for you to be able to handle them. Slice in half, and scoop the flesh out. Either rice it or press it through a sieve into a bowl. To your now-smooth potato innards, add:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2-3 tbsp of grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Stir that up just until it’s mixed. As with all things that receive mixing, over-mixing your dough will result in the Worst Kitchen Disaster Ever- tough little balls of various baked goods. So just enough to blend is fine.

Once you’ve formed dough, flour a surface that you’ll be able to work on. It needs to be a fairly big space, because you’re about to do some rolling. Cut the dough into four or five vertical slices. Take each hunk and roll it between your hands and the work surface as though you’re making Play-Doh snakes. Then, cut it into little rounds. Mine were about an inch long and maybe half an inch thick? Just make them look like gnocchi. If you want to get really fancy, like if you’re trying to convince a 22 year old artist you are in fact wifey material he could give up his wanderlust for, roll them down the back of a fork for the ridges.
 

Cook them in a large pot of salted, boiling water until they float. Once they float, give them one extra minute and then scoop them out with a strainer or slotted spoon.

 
Now- don’t get flustered, but you’re actually going to do something else while the gnocchi cook. Have a sauté pan getting nice and hot. As soon as you dump in your pasta to the pot, put about a quarter cup of butter in the pan. Also add a few leaves of sage, which you can bruise with the back of your knife to help them release flavour. Brown the butter, which means watch it very carefully until the milk solids and the oily part start to turn brown. Let it get golden, but don’t let it go much past that. The sage leaves will crisp up beautifully as well.

When your gnocchi are plated, scoop out your brown butter sauce onto the pasta. Top with salt, pepper, the sage leaves, and a really great freshly shaved parmesan or reggiano. Very simple flavours, but it is an amazingly delicious fall meal. Just save it for a day when you feel like being in the kitchen!

Thank you to this recipe, which gave some great tips on how to ensure the gnocchi are fluffy and delicious.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Whipped Cream


This is a new twist on a #basic Pumpkin Spice Latte. But obviously, way less basic. 

We had an amazing time presenting this recipe on Daytime Ottawa- If you're a Rogers customer, check it out

You'll need:
1 good sized Butternut Squash, cubed and peeled; or a package of pre-cut butternut squash
1 chopped onion
chicken or vegetable broth - about 3 cups
1-2 tbsp Cumin
1 tsp Coriander
1 tsp Turmeric
2 tbsp butter or fat alternative like coconut oil (if vegan)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 small carton of whipping cream (or dairy substitute like almond milk)

Start by tossing  your squash with half your spices and some olive oil until coated. Roast in the oven at 375 for 25 minutes or until golden.

Once your squash is roasted, melt 2 tablespoons of butter (or alternative) in a big soup pot and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes until they're soft. Season with salt and pepper and a bit more cumin.

Add the squash cubes into your sauté being sure to get all the cooking liquid from roasting into the pot as well. Add enough broth to cover and simmer for about 20 - 30 minutes until everything is soft. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.

If you are making the vegan version of this soup, whisk in about 2 cups your diary alternative. Taste and add more seasoning as necessary.

For the non-vegan/dairy –free version, pour the cream into a large bowl and add the rest of the spice. Using an immersion blender, automatic mixer, or good, old fashioned strength, whip until peaks appear.


Add a dollop (or quenelle if you’re fancy) as garnish. The cream melts into each bowl of soup and adds a delicious creaminess.  Serve piping hot on a crisp fall day!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Spinach Dip just for fun!

Been a while since we posted a really fun and easy dip to serve just for the very joy of it! This one fits the bill. We're a football loving bunch and Sunday is our day to celebrate. We celebrate the joy of being with family along with the changing of the landscape to the beautiful hue of Autumn. On Sundays, my family all wear their team jersey and we bet on the games and we celebrate the happiness of life. And yes, we imbibe in a nice cold lager and enjoy a snack and wish each other the very best! You can't go wrong with that. And here is a fabulous and easy dip that everybody loves. And in fact I forgot to snap a photo of it before it got devoured. But you'll get the idea after you serve this one!

You'll need:
2 packages of frozen chopped spinach
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup of grated old cheddar cheese
1 cup of Gruyere or Swiss grated cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste.

Thaw the spinach and squeeze out the excess moisture through two strong layers of paper towel (as in you need name brand here) or cheesecloth. Put it in a bowl and add the egg, soup, Dijon, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Stir everything to thoroughly combine
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grate the cheese. Use more if you like.

You have a choice here. You can spread the spinach on the bottom of a small casserole dish and let the cheese melt on top. I prefer to mix the cheese into the spinach so I don't have a hardened cheese crust on the top of the dip after a few minutes of exposure. Then nobody can really get at that dip without capturing the whole cheese top trying to jump on to their cracker. And if you're bringing a date to watch football for the first time, it's just sheer horror for them. There seems to be no way to get a bit of dip without taking the whole top with it. And this happens with every dip that says to melt the cheese on top. I get it that it takes a pretty photo. But come on. Have some respect for your football newbies for God sake!

 I mix it all together and bake at 350 degrees with the lid on the casserole dish for about 25 minutes or until it's all bubbling. Then remove the cover and broil for 5 minutes. Serve it up with Triscuits or Scoop chips. Or anything you like. This one is vegetarian too, so yes, you can bring that girl you met in the club last night to watch the games and no fear of a Fred Flinstone rib ending up on her plate! Cheers friends!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Southern Tomato Pie

 
Kelly and I had an AMAZING trip to the Lowcountry this summer! We drove from Kingston, ON all the way to Savannah, GA. It was incredibly successful for a number of reasons: We arrived safely in all accounts to all destinations, we did not fight over music (except that one time Kell said she was DONE listening to talk radio- what can I say, I heart the CBC) and we ate, and ate, and ate.
 
 
Despite being given the sage advice by my father, “not to drink too much bourbon in strange places,” we did hit Sean Brock’s restaurant, Husk, in Charleston. We drank bourbon, of course, but we also both had some incredible food. The highlight for me was the pig’s ear lettuce wraps. Crunchy, spicy, sweet, and incorporating a meat which had once been relegated to giant bins at pet food wholesalers for $0.39/ear. It was wondrous.
We also voyaged to Scott’s BBQ, which, Mind of a Chef does not tell you, is literally in the middle of nowhere. We thought it would be a little jaunt off the I-95, when in fact it was a 3 hour detour into the wilds of South Carolina. But, oh my God, was it ever worth it. Whole hogs, grilled over open pit flames, served with coleslaw, beans, and two slices of white bread. We ate it in oppressive humidity, which we were also duly warned about by my father. It was the experience of a lifetime. Despite much big talk about how I was going to chat up Rodney Scott if we saw him, when we did actually see him, I turned into a quivering puddle of barbecue sauce. Instead, I fan-girled all over him and told him we drove from Canada for his food. This likely frightened him somewhat, since it was delivered with a frisson of Fatal Attraction, so he quickly asked if we were headed back to Canada after lunch. Of course we were, and of course I didn’t ask for a photo, and of course I now regret this.
I was absolutely inspired by the flavours of the Lowcountry, and I think Kell and I both seriously considered Charleston as a new place of habitation. Since coming back North of the 49th, I’ve been craving the flavours of our trip. One important distinction, I think, is the time commitment southern cooks give to their food. This tomato pie did take me about 6 hours to complete, although a lot of that time was about the pastry (you know how I feel about making pastry from scratch- it’s basically the worst.) But there are still many levels to this pie’s flavour, and those levels require time. So- make like a resident of the south, take it slow, and enjoy the trip.
The recipe I used was courtesy of Epicurious, although you can find many variations out there. I’m not going to tell you how to make pastry- it’s annoying, and I’m bad at it. But the internet can help you, or you can buy frozen and not try to be a big shot. Your life, your choice. Let’s focus on the filling:
Ingredients:
·         3 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4" thick (The more colourful, the better)
·         3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
·         1 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
·         1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
·         1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
·         1/2 cup mayonnaise
·         1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, parsley, and/or thyme (Note: I used some fresh oregano, but I also added a nice scoop of Old Bay)
·         1 teaspoon mild hot sauce
·         1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 
You need to start by salting your tomatoes for at least an hour. (Remember how I said don’t rush this? This is a good portion of that.) Lay the slices out in a single layer on some paper towel, cover them in a layer of kosher salt, and then cover with paper towel. If you’re terribly antsy, you can make the rest of the filling while the tomatoes dry out.
Sauté your onions in some butter until they are golden. Add some salt and let them cool. Meanwhile, mix the mayo, hot sauce, cheese and seasoning together in a bowl. Stir in the onions and let that rest in the fridge until your tomatoes are ready.
The longer you salt the tomatoes, the better off you are. It really pushes the flavour to the next level, and it also makes it so that your pie doesn’t turn into a tomato soup. Once you’ve really patted them off, layer them in your pie shell (which at this point you’ve blind-baked.) Then, spread your mayo mixture onto the tomatoes. Smooth it all out, and bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with a fresh salad (arugula pairs amazingly well with this) and some great hot sauce. Then, enjoy the fruits of your labour, maybe with a little bourbon on the side.
 
 
 
(Ed’s. Note: If you want to see pictures of our travels, check out #SouthOf49 on Twitter and Instagram!)

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Frog Legs With Sauce Piquante

Welcome to our 2nd live blog! Today, we make frog legs in honour of our trip to Charleston next week. This recipe is courtesy of David Link and Sean Brock of Mind of a Chef, which is only the best show ever created. It's on Netflix. You should watch.

We'll be starting at 5:00pm- we look forward to you joining us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using #liveblogdeadfrog.


Kelly here - my pre-blog questions are what Songza playlist should I use, and what type of beer should I crack? Pressing stuff….Follow my updates on Twitter as well @kellllybeth! 

Great question Kelly! I'm having a PBR. You can follow me at @baileymariereid! Let's do this!

I just started my legs. I've got a bowl full of flour and Old Bay seasoning, which is coating those legs before they go in the pan. They're... legs. Very much bringing back to anatomy.

You got Old Bay?! So smart. I have some dried habanero spice and cajun seasoning, but a few of my legs are still frozen (whoopsie) so I'm busy chopping up onions and celery while they thaw. And I've got some Bayou beats on too! 

Ha! I already had Old Bay! I go through it in tubs. What kind of peppers did you get? I've got bell, jalapeño and some other spicy one. I've also chopped my onion, celery, and garlic!

Have you tried any of the meat yet, Kell? I haven't.

Tried the meat yet?! I'm still chopping. I totally should've prepped my mise en place in advance. I got bell peppers, jalapeños, and Hungarian peppers! 

Okay, finally done chopping. Oil is hot and legs are ready to take a dip. Everybody in the pool…..

Also, i feel like a dolt for saying I'm using frozen legs instead of fresh. But try finding fresh frog legs in Kingston, Ontario! It was bad enough trying to find foie gras that one time…..

I had to get frozen too! There was nothing fresh in Ottawa, either. But! I've fried up my legs. Next, I added about a tablespoon of butter into the hot pan with the frog grease (that is not appetizing... I mean the liquid gold!) Next I added the mirepoix (onions, garlic and celery.) Finally, in went the peppers, and about a half cup of flour. I'm about to add some tomatoes now.

My tester leg fried up a beautiful golden brown but subsequent legs are looking pasty. Cranking my oil temp. For visuals, check in with me at @kellllybeth on twitter or @kellyelizreid on Insta. 

Good call, sister. My roux has my gravy mad thick. I'm ready to simmer after adding some stock! They are going to simmer for about 15-20 min. Time to make some rice. Remember how in Mind Of A Chef they serve it with grits? But then Sean Brock says that's sacrilege, so I'll do rice. How is that oil coming along?

i've got a serious roux going, but I think I burned the bejesus out of my garlic!

Oh no! Burned garlic is the worst. I tried one of my mystery peppers to see what it was like... I'm sweating, my tongue has no sensation, and I'm now terrified of touching my face. But it smells like the bayou in here!

Hahahaha! My mystery Hungarian peppers turned out to be pretty mild but it smells like the Bayou in my kitchen too! Debating dumping half a beer in to augment my stock just for the hell of it…..

That sounds like a fabulous beer. Let's shoutout your brewer? Who did you go with?

Went with Sleeman Honey Brown! A total delight. My stock is in, simmering away on top of my mire, tomatoes, and peppers. What stock did you end up going with? I assume you didn't have frog stock. I used chicken. 

You're right. No frog stock here... although now I know what to do with my bones? I went with a homemade vegetable stock, because that's just what I had on hand. I wonder if fish stock would work too?

Taking this lull while my stock simmers and my rice water boils to add a few photos, in case you haven't been following Twitter or insta! 

Your photos look awesome Kell! My phone seems to be uninterested in syncing. I'll get there, but you can find my finished product at @baileymariereid on Twitter or @baileyreid85 on Insta!

Well, apparently brown rice takes FORTY FIVE MINUTES to cook, so my finished product shot will be up in approximately 41 minutes. 

Bahahahahahhahahahahahah Mummy would be so mad that you didn't prep this all in advance! Bad girls Kelly. PSA- frog bones are LITTLE. Like, LITTLE. So be careful with that, everyone. Go easy on the bourbon until after dinner.


Okay everyone! Thank you so much for joining us for this blog! Next week, we head out on a road trip to Savannah. Travel with us by following #SouthOf49!
Pre-fry. Looking beautiful!


Sacrificial lamb. He looks good!

Ready to go

Simmering the goods.



Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Ceviche

Welcome to the first LadyGirlsTable Quick Cut!
 
Fresh off the buzz of the summer solstice, I have been craving super light meals lately. And although I actually finally have A/C in my new place, I hate turning it on. So a supper that is quick, cheap, and light sounded perfect to me this weekend.

Ceviche is the answer to everything, probably in life. It’s one of those amazing meals that feels really special, but isn’t very hard to prepare. And it’s sooooo pretty- perfect for entertaining. It can easily just be a light appetizer, or you can serve larger portions to make a pescatarian-friendly meal. Add some corn chips/tostadas/tequila, and you’ve got yourself a party!
You’ll need:
·         Light ocean fish, in 1-inch pieces (I used tilapia- super inexpensive and sustainable, but ask your fish monger what the freshest offering is. You definitely want FRESH fish for this)
·         Juice of lemons, limes, other citrus (I used 4 limes, 1 lemon, and 1 grapefruit)
·         Watermelon, cubed (we’re going to be jazzy!)
·         Feta, crumbled (because watermelon and feta are all the rage now)
·         ¼ finely diced red onion
·         1 cubed avocado
·         Chopped cilantro
·         Salt & pepper
·         Radishes and cilantro sprouts for garnish
Start by covering the fish in a bowl with the citrus juice and marinate from 20-40 minutes in the fridge. This “cooks” the fish. Meanwhile, chop your other bits. Drain the majority of the citrus juice from the bowl. Mix all ingredients and season. Plate. Garnish.
Could it be easier? Obviously not. Enjoy! (Also, please excuse the lighting in my little kitchen- fluorescent lights make everything a bit sad.)

 

 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Chicken Piccata

Hello my dear friends. It's been a long time since I wrote up a recipe. My life fell apart into forty million sharp and jagged pieces and I lost sight of my joy. I'm that meme that says "In the process of getting my groove back. Please standby." Nobody expects to be washed ashore in a wave of shit at the age of 55 and have to start all over again. You don't see that coming. But nor can you have people at your funeral saying "Yeah, but what about her self pity years?" So it's time to Sally Forth and at least I've started to shave my legs on a regular basis again!

So I hadn't cooked a thing in months when my beautiful sister-in-law asked if The LadyGirls would cater my brother's 50th birthday party. I was so honoured and excited to be asked, and we jumped at the chance! I've posted our menu for the party here. We really enjoyed every bit of the planning and the shopping, but oh my - I can't even describe how good it felt to be standing at a stove again! Oh and by the way, in my excitement to see that my sexy new basement apartment had a marble bathroom, I failed to notice that it had no stove. So I think catering will be the way to go from now on so I can use other people's stoves as my test kitchen. Although it does have a hot plate and I could always write a series on camp cooking such as how to heat up a can of beans and what have you.


But the hit of the buffet was the Chicken Piccata by far. Now you should note that I've also made this recipe with veal and it's every bit as delicious. This is a fast and easy way to feed a crowd.

You'll need:
boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I used 8 breasts sliced vertically into 4 slices per breast and pounded out flat. This made 32 pieces, but 2 breasts, sliced and pounded will yield 8 pieces to feed 4 people
salt, pepper and flour to dredge
olive oil to fry the meat
And for the sauce:
1 sliced lemon
1 cup or more of chicken broth depending how many you serve
a splash of white wine if you life, but it's not necessary
2 tablespoons or more of capers
1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley


Slice each breast into 4 thin slices vertically and pound them flat between 2 pieces of plastic wrap using a meat tenderizer, or a rolling pin. Don't touch any surfaces in the kitchen until you're finished with this and then thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water and sanitize all your surfaces that came in contact with the chicken. Heat about 1 inch of olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour shaking off any excess. Using tongs, fry each piece in the oil until golden and flip and do the other side. Remove them to paper towel to drain off the excess oil. Drain any oil left in the skillet and deglaze with a splash of white wine if you like. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes to cook off the alcohol and add the chicken broth and lemon. Let it simmer on medium heat for about 8 - 10 minutes until it thickens and add the capers. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Plate the chicken and pour the sauce over it. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately. So fast and easy and amazing! You'll make this one often. And I do recommend you try it with veal sometime too. For sides, I used green beans and potatoes, but use whatever you like. Pasta goes perfect with it and a nice arugula salad. Enjoy friends! It's so good to be back!