Mar 4, 2011

And the winner is…

Thank you ALL so much for participating in our first Pretty Tasty Things giveaway! A random number was selected from the 29 eligible entries. #10 is the lucky number so congratulations to Ellen for winning a brand new 6-cup Bialetti Espresso Maker! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have with mine, but more importantly I hope you try making café con leche! Please let us know how it turns out. Note to self, throw out the first batch of espresso you make. It tastes a little metal-ish. Not very tasty, believe me. That was my first mistake. Congratulations, Ellen! I’ll be sending you an email soon.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. I’m going home for the night to visit my Dad for his 65th birthday. We got him 2 golf shirts mainly because he is crazy about golf. On his actual birthday, I called to wish him a Happy Birthday. I maybe spoke to him for less than a minute because he was on the 11th hole on the golf course. Man was on a mission! I certainly do look forward to eating at home this weekend. Nothing like home cooking, Filipino-style. Check back next week where I’ll have a DIY and a tasty Filipino recipe I know you will want to check out. Tagay!

Mar 3, 2011

Top Chef All-Stars: Final Five

Last night’s episode of Top Chef All-Star was by far an emotional one for all of the “cheftestants.” I think I teared up once or twice :) In the elimination challenge, all five chefs were brought to Ellis Island and were surprisingly greeted by a member of their family. The challenge was to create a dish based on their heritage. This episode in particular certainly allowed viewers to see a different side to all the chefs, a side that gets lost when competition gets in the way. I absolutely loved this episode, it was hysterical, loving and warm. And the best part? Finding out Chef Mike Isabella and Chef Antonia Lofaso are cousins!! Haha!

Well, if you didn’t get a chance to catch last night’s episode, here are all dishes each chef created. I found that the underlying theme in all of the dishes seems to be braised meat! I’m totally going to try that technique next week since I do have braised short ribs in the freezer.

So, the question is: what dish would you create if this challenge was given to you?

Chef Mike Isabella: Potato Gnocchi with Braised Pork Shank Ragu and Burrata Cheese

Chef Antonia Lofaso: Braised Veal, Rapini Leaf, and Fava Bean Risotto

Chef Richard Blais: Short Ribs, Potatoes, Fried Bone Marrow, Corn Purée, and Pickled Glass Wart

Chef Tiffany Derry: Braised Short Rib with Mustard Greens, Stewed Okra, and Oxtail Marmalade

Chef Carla Hall: Braised Pork Shoulder, Fried Grits, Corn and Sweet Potato Hash and Cheddar Biscuits

[Photo credits: BravoTV]

Mar 2, 2011

Recipe for: Broccoli Cheddar Soup (with shredded chicken)

Adapted from the kitchen of: cdkitchen.com

There’s something about a bowl of hot soup that warms my heart. It’s old-school, rustic and hearty. There’s one soup I became a big fan of after I tried it for the first time at Panera. Yes, you know what I’m talking about. Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup is to die for.

One evening I got home from work and it was my turn to cook, however, I had nothing planned. There were some random items in the fridge like broccoli, cheese and heavy cream. Ah-ha! Jared and I immediately searched the web for a recipe and let me tell you how identical it was to Panera’s version. It may be even healthier, minus the butter. And because Jared always wants his protein, we added grilled shredded chicken, which made it even heartier.

Ingredients:
Serves 4
5 tablespoons of butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half (I used 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of heavy cream)
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar
1 pack of chicken tenderloins (roughly 8 strips)
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:
1. Grill the chicken tenderloins. This process is optional, but the soup is really nice with the addition of shredded chicken. Heat a hot grill pan with a 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Salt + pepper the chicken tenderloins and place on the grill. Each side takes about 4-6 minutes depending on thickness. Once the chicken is completely cooked through, set aside and cool for several minutes. Once cool, take 2 forks and shred the chicken.

2. Sauté the onion. In a heated pot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and sauté onions until transparent. Set the onions aside in a bowl. Meanwhile in a separate smaller pot, heat up 2 cups of water and add 2 bouillon cubes til it dissolves. If you have chicken stock handy, skip this step.

3. Make the roux. In the same pot you had cooked the onions, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stirring constantly, slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). After nicely combined, slowly add the chicken stock and whisk together. Let it simmer for 15 minutes or so until it gets nice and thick, stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn.

4. Add the vegetables. Place the broccoli, julienned carrots and sautéed onions into the creamy mixture. Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes until the veggies are tender. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. If you like less chunky soup, at this point you can take a hand-held immersion blender to smooth out the consistency. I did not because I like my soup on the thicker-side. You decide. At the end, add the grated cheese and shredded chicken; stir until well blended. Add the nutmeg and serve with warm crusty french bread.

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Mar 1, 2011

First Giveaway: Bialetti Espresso Maker

I’m thrilled to announce Pretty Tasty Things’ first giveaway! You have a chance to win a brand new 6-cup Bialetti espresso maker made in Italy and make all the café con leche you could ever want! All you have to do to be eligible to win is:

LIKE our Pretty Tasty Things’ Facebook page
Or

SUBSCRIBE
to get email updates located on the sidebar to the right

And then you must
LEAVE A COMMENT on this post indicating which one you did

So, once you’ve either LIKE’d our Facebook page and/or SUBSCRIBED via email, you must leave a comment on this specific blog post indicating how you’re staying connected with Pretty Tasty Things. Deadline to enter is 5 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 3. Please one entry per person. A random winner will be announced on Friday, March 4. Good luck!

Feb 28, 2011

Simple Cafe con leche

From the kitchen of: Isabel Canfield

Café con leche is as simple as it sounds. It’s actually not as tedious as you think it may be. It does though take a few tries to master, but once you get the right ratio and sweetness, it’s the perfect cup to wake you up in the morning. When Jared and I came back to the States after drinking café con leche every day in Spain, we wanted to learn how to make it on our own without spending tons of money on a espresso machine. So with two important inexpensive items, Bialetti espresso maker and our BonJour hand-held frother, we were in business.

Ingredients:
coffee
water
milk
sweetener (of your choice)

Directions:
1. Fill the base with cold water. Be sure to not exceed the level notches indicated inside the bottom part.


2. Scoop coffee into filter. I normally purchase coffee beans and grind the beans at home. You can easily just buy the beans already grounded. The most important thing is to use good coffee. Scoop ground coffee into the funnel shaped filter, don’t press down. Because mine is a 9-cup Bialetti, I only filled it halfway. That’s a lot of espresso for two people! Place the filter into base that you just added water in.

3. Place on stove. Screw strongly the top of the coffeepot to the base. Place it on the stove at low heat. Let the espresso maker work its’ magic. The water will boil up into the top chamber. This process takes a little while, 10-15 minutes or so. Just keep an eye on it. The top chamber will fill up with espresso and you’ll hear air spurting indicating it’s done.

4. Heat up the milk & froth. After the coffee is ready, it’s time to heat up the milk. Take your coffee mug and fill it halfway with milk. Place in the microwave to heat up for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Once the coffee is nice and hot, add sweetener to your liking. Please note that I transferred the milk to a mason jar so you can see how it should look like. Use a good hand-held frother like BonJour to create the foam.


5. Add the hot espresso. After you’ve gotten the milk to the right frothiness, slowly pour the hot espresso. If you like it on the stronger side, pour an equal amount of espresso to the milk. If you like it a little less strong, like I do, go a bit easy. After you’ve poured the espresso, use the frother again really quickly to mix the espresso and milk together.

Café con leche is a light and refreshing coffee beverage. If you’re hosting a brunch and you want to serve something other than a pot of coffee, try serving café con leche instead. You can make this to serve and can even add flavored syrups like Torani. This will really impress your friends + family.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post! You won’t want to miss out on a fantastic giveaway! Hint hint, it’s related to this post.

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