Monday, May 28, 2007

The Amsterdam Special

A few years ago I was fortunate to be sent to Amsterdam for work. Mornings I got up and wandered the city on foot before I headed off to work. One of the nicest mornings--and breakfasts--I had was along one of the canals in a sleepy little residential neighborhood. I'd popped into a shop and purchased a little sandwich and enjoyed it as the city started to rise.

I've craved that sandwich ever since and recreated it to the best of my ability on Saturday.

The Amsterdam Special
One sourdough baguette, cut into three or four sections
Softened, salted butter
Ripe tomatoes, sliced
Havarti cheese, sliced thin
Salt and pepper

Cut the bread to make a sandwich, and butter liberally. Cover with salted & peppered tomatoes; add at least two slices of cheese to each sandwich. Enjoy with a cold beer outside!

Cocktail Bits and Pieces

The '50's Cocktail Party ended up not being a 50's cocktail party at all. Sure, that was the purported theme, but I really didn't see anything there that said 50s cocktail party. It wasn't really clear on the invites and people showed up wearing all sorts of clothes (my awful maternity top was decidedly modern, though it does show a lot of boob).

The instructions I was given was to bring two cold and two hot appetizers, finger-only food. The hots were to come out 90 minutes after the party began; since I live two doors down this wasn't a problem. I did, however, want to be sure I didn't go over my budget ($100 for all the appetizers, for 40 people) and didn't bite off more than I could chew in terms of energy. As the others were doing a lot of items straight from the Costco freezer section, I decided I didn't have to be super fancy.

My menu resulted in a mix of vegetarian, cold and hot, crunchy/chewy/spicy and smooth:

Parmesan Crisps
Crudite with three dips (green goddess; cucumber feta; hummus)
Honey Ginger Chicken Bites
Pigs in a Blanket with three mustards
Oh sooooo fancy!

For the veggies I had pre-washed baggies of snow peas, broccoli, carrots, etc. and just arranged them around a pretty trio of dips. I made the green goddess and bought the others.

Pigs in a Blanket turned out to be the party favorite--I had a dog chasing me down the street and then people jumping on me before I even got in the door.

The honey ginger chicken bites were a Cooking Light recipe made with boneless skinless chicken thighs, marinated, cooked, and then broiled in a glaze. Pretty good over all--but ugly on the plate even with bits of parsley and fancy frilly toothpicks.

The Parmesan Crisps were really my favorite. They should have been placed on the bar for all the folks hanging out getting sloshed. They were a great nibbly thing, just perfect with beer or red wine.

Parmesan Crisps

One sourdough baguette
1/2 pound butter
1/2 to 1 cup grated (not shredded) Parmesan cheese
Julienned basil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the bread into 1/4" slices. Melt the butter and pour into flat tray or pan. Put cheese in second tray or pan. Dip bread into butter on both sides, taking care not to soak up all the butter. Then coat both sides of bread with cheese. Place all slices on a cookie tray. Bake for nine minutes, then turn over all slices and cook for another four minutes. Sprinkle with basil and allow to cool.

Time is Flying!

Thanks everyone for all the kind notes. May has been a busy month for me, and I seem to want to do nothing but sleep. My goal for today is to stay awake all day and stay up until 9:30 tonight. What a goal, huh?

Actually, I have a number of things I want to do, including baking some bread (we're completely out), get my oil changed, pick up paint chips for the Bug's room (we're switching rooms in anticipation of a squalling kid mid-July), and cooking a very inexpensive roast--pork, of course.

I also intend to write up some of the bits and pieces I've successfully thrown together this month. It hasn't been much, that's for sure.

Now that spring is here, what are you craving? What are you enjoying? Strawberries are unusually sweet and juicy this year. I'm hoping to stop by the U-Pick cherry stand today--but I only have $4 allotted. I wonder how many I can pick for that little?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Steak Salad with Green Godess Dressing

We had leftover london broil in the fridge yesterday and I had seen a snippet of The Barefoot Contessa making a salad with Green Godess dressing. I thought, why not make a steak salad with Green Godess dressing? So I did, and oh boy, was it good. No pictures though--we ate it up too fast!

Steak Salad
Thinly sliced steak--like leftover London Broil
One to two heads butter lettuce, washed and dried
Two ripe tomatoes, cut in wedges
Steamed broccoli (I had it leftover)
Yukon gold potatoes, cut in quarters and roasted (again, I had leftovers)
Green Godess Dressing

Toss all the ingredients and serve immediately with crusty sourdough. I like the simplicity of the ingredients, but again, it was what I had in the fridge. What's in yours?

Green Godess Dressing
1 Cup Lowfat Mayo
3/4 Cup light/low fat sour cream
2-3 garlic cloves
3-5 scallions
Juice of one plump lemon
1.5 cups fresh basil
1 teaspoon (or to taste) anchovy paste
Freshly ground pepper

Mix everything in a food processor until smooth and blended. Adjust consistency as needed. This is great as a sandwich spread as well!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bad food is worse than bad sex

My co-worker and I were talking about a recently opened bad Chinese place in Oakland (Emperor Chinese Gourmet: Americanized, bland, flavorless, boring, pedantic, blah and odd). We both tried it because it's near the office and promised cheap eats.

As my pregnancy progresses I've wanted more and more spicy and flavorful food--which I didn't get at Emperor Chinese Gourmet. But I was super hungry so I filled up. Back in the office I realized I was full, but seriously unsatisfied. I rooted around in my desk for an old fireball, some Red Hots, or even a peppermint. I ended up eating peppermint Tums just to get the flavor.

My co-worker said, "Bad food is like bad sex. If you're unsatisfied you end up having to go and make do on your own."

So...don't go to Emperor Chinese Gourmet in Oakland, or you'll be breaking out your vibrator in the middle of the afternoon.