Chocolate Espresso Pots de Creme

Pots de creme (3)

I chose this recipe for our inaugural post because in some ways, this was the recipe that started me down the path of cooking.  This is not to say that I didn’t cook at all before I saw this recipe, but since I was 16 at the time, most of the cooking I had done up to this point involved helping my mom in the kitchen.

I do credit my parents for exposing me to basic cooking skills.  In the summer, and on weekends when it was clear I was not doing homework, they’d rope me into the kitchen to chop veggies or clean dishes.  Nothing complex or glamorous, but enough to start gaining familiarity with what it took to make a home cooked meal for a family of four.  Then one summer they took it up a notch and started assigning responsibility for one dinner a week to both my sister and me.  I think they were just looking to get out of making dinner two days a week.  And to make matters worse, they explicitly stated that calling Domino’s didn’t count.  Regardless, that was probably my first solo cooking, but it wasn’t really by choice.

Then one day this recipe shows up on our doorstep on the cover of Gourmet magazine.  It looked awesomely decadent.  I asked my mom off-handedly when she was going to make it, and after glancing at the ingredient list of egg yolks and heavy cream, she just laughed.  But me, with all the grizzled angst of a teenager denied a dessert, defiantly roared “WELL THEN MAYBE I’LL MAKE IT!”  (well, roaring may be a bit of an exaggeration…but there was insolence for sure).


Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the real questions is… why “Brussels”?

The things you ponder when you’ve stared at a word for a while.  Same thing happened to me with the word “laptop.”  (Laptop. Laptop.  Lap.  Top.  Starts to sound super weird.)

Wikipedia confirms for me both the spelling and capitalization of “Brussels.”  It also intensifies my questions.  Apparently they were first grown in early Rome (doesn’t compute), then possibly Belgium (okay) in the 13th Century, and its largest modern production takes place in the Netherlands and Germany (hmmm), and possibly the UK but they don’t export (selfish – also, they must eat a ton of veggies).  Okay I might as well link the Wikipedia article at this point.  

So I guess Brussels, the city, did figure in there somewhere.  I’m not sure how everyone settled on them as a namesake, but it maybe it makes more sense than some other words out there.  (Flammable/inflammable anyone?)

K I’ll stop being nerd and talk about this recipe.


Mashed Potato Gratin with Browned Butter, Manchego, and Horseradish

Mashed potato gratin with browned butter, manchego, and horseradish

So as it turns out, Fine Cooking publishes its Thanksgiving edition early.  How early? The issue is technically October, but it was delivered to our mailbox in September.  That’s pretty early to be thinking about Thanksgiving…

….Unless it’s your very first year hosting Thanksgiving festivities.  In which case, you’re like THANK GOD Fine Cooking is coming to my rescue.

That might be me.

I’ve spent Thanksgiving in many different locations over the year.  I was actually trying to count the other day, and I think I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in at least nine different cities, from Oregon to Ireland.  That’s pretty cool, right?  But it also means my first time hosting is just a wee bit intimidating.  Especially because Ross’s Thanksgiving experience has been a little different than mine.  He has spent 27 out of 29 Thanksgivings in Colorado with his extended family.  This year, for the first time ever, his parents will travel to our house in Houston, along with my sister and brother-in-law, an aunt and uncle, and any other family or friends who may want to join.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of hosting.  It’s going to be aaaaamazing not to travel over the holiday, and entertaining our favorite people is, well, one of our favorite things.

But I want to get it right.  And while Ross and I are lucky to agree on a number of traditional dishes (including three absolutely necessary pies), there is some wiggle room for experimentation, as long as it’s delicious.

Enter Fine Cooking.  Mashed potato gratin with browned butter, manchego, and horseradish you say?  Don’t mind if we do.


Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

You know those days when you sit around and idly wonder about the anatomy of a cow?

…so that’s just me?

I would love to take a class on butchering.  It sounds both macabre and delightful.  (I also enjoy saying the word “carcass” when I make chicken stock, because it’s basically the only time you can say “carcass” in a casual, socially acceptable manner.)

Things just got dark.

But the reason I started thinking about bovine bodies was sheer curiosity over the many kinds of “ribs” you hear about associated with cows.  Rib roast, ribeye, back ribs, short ribs.  It makes me wonder how one bone can be associated with so many different cuts of meat.  Are they from different ribs?  Identical ribs cut into different segments?  I’m sure many people know the answer to these questions, but I am not one of them.

So short ribs carry some mystery with them.  And not only because of their unknown anatomical origins, but also because they’re a cut I haven’t made very often in the past.  My first couple attempts at short ribs ended up in a rather greasy mess.  Grilling them, although highly recommended by a reputable cooking magazine, was not successful either.  In fact, it wasn’t until recently that I learned…the secret of the short ribs.


Apples on Horseback

Apples on Horseback from

To continue the epic saga of our efforts to utilize our rosemary plants (normally I hate the word “utilize,” but I needed something overly stylistic after saying “epic saga”), we decided to try this “apples on horseback” appetizer.  I really can’t recommend it enough.

I mean, maybe I could, but only if I went around starting all conversations with, “You guys should REALLY try this appetizer.”  That would probably be excessive.