Foodie In Training

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

FN Dish

A few posts ago, I wrote a book review for the Amateur Gourmet and how much I enjoyed the book.  The author, Adam Roberts, who has  a great food blog with the same name, has been very busy because he now has a web show called FN Dish.  The premise is for Adam to go behind the scenes of the Food Network to talk about food news, events  and he even gets to interview the famous Food Network chefs...basically any Food Network fan's dream.   
He just got back from the South Beach Food Festival and I've watched a few of the videos from the weekend. He got interview Mario Batali and a very pregnant Giada de Laurentiis and he got to attend a panel about childhood obesity and interviewed Alice Waters and Rachael Ray afterwards.  The think the web show is great and Adam does a great job asking good questions and tries not to look too starstruck.  Adam's story is pretty cool because he found his love for cooking while he was unhappy at law school.  He started his blog a few years ago and has turned it in to quite a career!  Pretty inspiring. 
I definitely recommend checking out the FN Dish and Amateur Gourmet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Ryan and I have not been feeling well lately, we both have been suffering from the stomach flu.   Ryan is feeling much better now, but basically since Thursday, one or both of us has been surviving on just toast and 7up.  So needless to say, there hasn't been much cooking going on lately. My mom told me to stick to the "BRAT" diet which is an acronym for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast.  It's pretty sad when the highlight of my meals today will be applesauce and rice, but I hopefully tomorrow I can start eating some normal food again.    I think when we are both feeling better we should cook a foodie meal to celebrate!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Paula Dean's Heart Attack Burger

I'm not the biggest fan of Paula Dean's recipes, but her Southern hospitality and twang and bubbly personalty makes her shows fun to watch. It seems like all her recipes start with a pound of butter and are finished with a jar of real mayonnaise. But this morning Paula had a show about brunch and I saw the most disturbing single dish on Paula's show, or anywhere for that matter.

It started innocently enough: a 1/2 pound juicy hamburger made with ground beef and lots of parsley. To make it brunch-like she added a fried egg- a little ridiculous, but not off the charts... yet. Then came three strips of fatty bacon. Wow, this was one hell of a burger. She had a big basket of English Muffins, and naturally I thought she would use this for the bread of this monster burger. But, next to the basket of muffins, there sat 1/2 dozen large glazed donuts. I thought there was no way... but, she took one of the donuts, put in on her plate, and placed the burger, egg, and bacon on top of it. Unbelievably, she then took another large donut to complete the sandwich. Her and her friend each had a bite before it went to commercial. I had seen enough. At one point in my life, I think I might have to try this thing, but maybe not until I have a chronic illness or something.

She called this thing "The Lady's Brunch Burger"--- yikes.

Some quick calculations from FitDay.com: 1269 Calories, 90g Fat

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mario Batali was our Valentine

Cute shoes, right? Alright, I wore them to Law Prom last weekend but I thought the red shoes were Valentine's Day Post appropriate. :)
Instead of getting all dressed up and going out for a fancy Valentine's dinner, we decided to choose a few recipes and make a great dinner. And that we did. We didn't start cooking until late in the evening but it was so worth it. We weren't sure where to get a good cut of veal, I wasn't sure if Kroger or Bigg's would carry it, so we decided to go to Fresh Market. Fresh Market is a very upscale grocery store, that I happen to love. It is not a place where we do our regular grocery shopping, we tried to do that once and ended up spending $6 on Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese. Anyway, I like it because it is a true departure from your normal supermarket, they play classical music, they have really high quality ingredients, an awesome meat and seafood selection and interesting things like making your own peanut or almond butter. We were lucky to get the last few cuts of veal and the rest of our ingredients for our fabulous dinner.

Here is the menu:
-Saltimbocca alla Romana (Roman-Style Veal Cutlets with Sage)
- Braised Baby Fennel
- Carmelized Onion Toasts
It was absolutely delicious. Just as good as any restaurant meal we could have had. Ryan was in charge of the veal so I will let him explain.

Veal Saltimbocca. The First time I remember having the dish was when I was 19 years old in St. Louis. I was visiting some friends during my first year of college and we went out to a nice Italian restaurant--- I can't remember the name. It was a nice piece of veal with a light sauce, but then there was the kicker- it was stuffed with prosciutto and cheese. It might have been the single most delicious bite I ever had up to that time. Since, I've had veal saltimbocca at many restaurants. Sometimes the prosciutto was on the outside, sometimes the veal was stuffed, sometimes there was cheese, sometimes not, but it was always a great dish.

This was the first time I tried to make veal saltimbocca. We bought some veal scallopini, and added some sage leaves. I think the sage was one of the keys to the dish, that and of course, the prosciutto. Prosciutto di Parma is a dried, cured ham, with a salty and spiced flavor. It is sliced razor, razor thin and is makes for the most incredible sandwiches ever made- and by sandwich, I don't mean the crap I have for lunch everyday- tasteless American honey ham, american processed to hell cheese and mustard on flimsy white bread- I mean real a real sandwich with prosciutto on some hard ciabatta or french bread, a little provolone cheese, maybe a roasted red pepper, and some salt and pepper. Really, prosciutto is one of my absolute favorite foods in the world.

Anyways, I ended up wrapping the veal, pounded pretty thin, and the sage in freshly sliced prosciutto. I lightly dredged them in seasoned flour and cooked them in a butter olive oil mixture for less than 5 minutes. I removed the veal and added some white wine to de-glaze, seasoning and some more oil to create a light sauce, in which I finished cooking the veal. The result was a salty veal dish packed with more flavor than one could think possible by the few ingredients used. Really, it was just sage, prosciutto, white wine, and veal plus some butter, oil, salt and pepper. The light wine sauce was just enough to cut the intense flavor of the meat. In all of Mario's brilliance, he suggested serving with lemon wedges. The lemon added a freshness and brightness that truly completed the dish. This was probably the best, most restaurant worthy meat course I have ever made. Mario Batali is awesome.

I (Erin) was in charge of the braised fennel and the carmelized onion toasts. Fennel is a very new ingredient for me to cook with so I had to do some research on how to cut and prepare it. This recipe called for just using the bulbs, so I chopped and julienned the fennel bulb and boiled it until fork tender in a large pot of water. In the mean time I started the carmelized onion toasts. I chopped 3 onions and sauteed them with 2 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper and basil. The onions didn't carmelize very well because we did not use the recommended amount of butter (in an attempt to try and make it healthier). So the toasts were not as sweet as they could have been. To remedy that, we drizzled some balsamic vinegar over the finished toasts and it really added a lot of flavor.
To finish the fennel, I put 1/4 cup of olive oil in a saute pan and heated on low/medium heat. I added garlic, chopped anchovies and red pepper to the heated olive oil. Once the garlic was slowly cooking and the anchovies were starting to disolve, I added the fennel and let it saute for 5 minutes. When it was done, I added some fresh orange zest, salt and pepper and it was ready to serve.

The dinner was absolutely fabulous and the aromas in our small apartment were intoxicating. The fennel had a really great flavor, the natural anise (black licorice) taste of the fennel mixed with the orange and garlic flavor was a great combination. Everything was great and it turned out to be a great Valentine's Day Dinner!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


This post is dedicated to a one of my favorite snacks edamame.   Edamame is a green vegetable more commonly known as a soybean.  It is harvested at the peak of its ripening.  You can buy it in many different forms, I usually buy a bag of frozen, pre-cooked edamame (the best price I can find is at Trader Joes) so when I want a snack, all I have to do is thaw a bowl full and then I can pick the edamame beans out of the pods and snack away! Edamame is high in protein and has been used in East Asia as a major source of protein for over 2000 years.   If you can find them at a good price, I definitely recommend trying them.  

Edamame has many uses besides snacks.  I have seen a lot recipes recently with edamame added to pasta dishes.  I've also had them in salads and stir fry's and it adds a great flavor and of course, your protein. 

I've had a bag and a half of frozen edamame in my fridge for months so I finally decided to use them. I put them in a large bowl to defrost and tonight I decided to make edamame hummus with my big bowl of edamame.  The recipe was really simple, it was basically my chick pea hummus recipe with edamame substituted.  The only thing I did differently than the recipe was I added an extra clove of garlic and instead of coriander I used hot paprika for a little kick.  I read some of the reviews of the recipe and the majority of the reviewers raved about the recipe, but a few said it was a little bland.  The hummus has a beautiful, bright green color and I'm excited to give it a try tomorrow after all of the flavors have settled overnight. 

Since we got our new food processor I've been making hummus about once a week because we eat it so fast.  I dip a lot of things in my hummus like crackers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and celery. I also use hummus on my sandwiches and wraps instead of mustard.  I intend to use the edamame hummus for the same things.  

We've been making some great meals over the past few days so once we get the photos loaded on to the computer, there are posts to come!  Also, we are cooking a nice dinner for Valentine's day so you'll definitely get to read about that. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Book Review: The Amateur Gourmet

I'm back!! I realize it's been a while since I've actually written a post, but I've definitely been busy in the kitchen helping create the tasty dishes Ryan has blogged about.  
Anyway, a few weeks ago I was couch bound for a weekend and I was able to get some good reading done.  I sat down and read this book in one day, it was a really great, quick read.  The title of this book The Amateur Gourmet (How to Shop, Chop and Table-Hop Like a Pro) might look a little familiar because it's one of the cooking links on the blog.  
Ryan got me this book for my birthday and I finally got around to reading it.  He picked it out because the author, Adam Roberts, developed his love for cooking while he was miserable in law school.  He started his blog a few years ago and journals his experiences in cooking and dining.  The book is a really easy and funny read. With each chapter, Roberts writes about what he thinks are important lessons and helpful tips to becoming comfortable in the kitchen.  Each chapter is laugh-out-loud funny and about a different aspect of cooking, from learning how to master the farmers market, a lesson about knives, and the book ends with him cooking a lavish, 6-course meal for his family.   There are also some really great recipes!  I definitely recommend this book for anyone, but especially the amateur gourmet or foodie in training, because it calms a lot of anxiety that comes with being a newbie in the kitchen. 

I also recommend checking out his blog, it is definitely one of my favorites!

Happy cooking. :)

Monday, February 4, 2008

tuna pasta salad

This quick meal falls into the category of: "shit, its 6:15 and we have no food at home, but we can't afford to go out, what can we make?" I had the idea of some sort of tuna salad as a few cans of tuna was really all the protein we had in our apartment. I also thought we could make some pasta with some of our tomato sauce. Erin had the brilliant idea to forget the tomato sauce and combine a tuna salad on top of some pasta.

As we boiled the pasta we started with the "tuna salad". Erin chopped a few green onions, some celery, dill pickles, and baby carrots and added it to two cans of tuna packed in water. We added a few chunks of asiago cheese and some alfalfa sprouts and then I began to season and dress the salad. I added a couple tablespoons of olive oil, juice from 1/2 of a lemon, and a healthy splash of white wine vinegar. I seasoned the salad with salt, black pepper, lemon pepper, hot paprika, and oregano. It tasted pretty good. We added this salad to 1 pound of cooked wheat pasta and finished the dish with some parmasean cheese and a little crushed red pepper. It was a delicious, quick and easy meal.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, didn't think about blogging about this meal until well after the fact and how satisfied I was for such a last minute thing. Also, I know this is just a food blog, and it will continue to just be a food blog, but I really think that you should watch this music video inspired by Barack Obama's "Yes we Can" speech from New Hampshire about a month ago. Anyone waiting for our generation's JFK or MKL, well, here you go: